In addition to meeting the Social Security Administration's definition of disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. Up to four credits can be earned each year.
The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2009, for example, you earn one credit for each $1090 of wages or self-employment income. When you've earned $4,360, you've earned your four credits for the year.
The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on the age when you became disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
You must also meet two different earnings tests, including a recent work test based on your age when you became disabled and a duration of work test to show that you have worked long enough under Social Security. Certain blind workers only have to meet the duration of work test.
If you have been denied your social security benefits, fill out our no risk case evaluation form.
The recent work test is based on the age you were when your disability began. The rules are based on calendar quarters. The first quarter runs January 1 through March 31; the second quarter runs April 1 through June 30; the third quarter runs July 1 through September 30; and the fourth quarter runs between October 1 through December 31.
The duration of work tests measures how much work you need if you become disabled at a certain age. For example, if you become disabled before age 28, you generally need 1.5 years of work. If you were disabled at age 60, you generally need 9.5 years of work. Each age has a different work requirement.
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