A long illness or permanent disability can leave you and your family on unstable financial ground. Without the ability to work and earn, paying for a home, food, and life’s other necessities can be difficult or simply impossible. Collecting Social Security Disability benefits can bring financial relief to your household.
To ensure access to any funds you are entitled to, discuss your disability case with a knowledgeable Social Security lawyer from Pilzer and Klein.
How Many Work Credits Do I Need to Receive SSD Benefits?
The number of credits required to receive SSD benefits is lower than the retirement number and is determined by two tests: a recent work test and a duration work test.
For the recent work test, age is the factor determining your eligibility for benefits. If you apply:
- Before turning 24, you may be eligible if you have earned 6 credits in the three-year period ending prior to the onset of your disability
- Between ages 24 and 31, you may be eligible if you have credit for working half of the time between age 21 and the onset of your disability. For example, if you become disabled at age 29, you would need four years of work, earning 12 work credits, from the previous eight years.
- At age 31 and beyond, you usually need a minimum of 20 credits from the 10 years prior to the onset of your disability.
You need a certain number of years’ worth of work credits to meet the duration of work test. The number is based on your age when your disability started. For this test, your work does not have to fall within a set period. The SSA.gov website provides a chart estimating the years required to pass the test.
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Have I Worked Enough to Be Eligible for SSD Benefits?
Though SSA guidelines can give you insight as to whether you have worked enough to receive benefits, there are often variables or special circumstances that come into play. To ensure you do not lose any opportunities for support, it is best to have an experienced SSD lawyer review your case. Your lawyer will know how to factor in all of your circumstances and ensure your fair treatment by the SSA.
Can I Only Collect SSD Benefits for Work-Related Injuries?
Your illness or injury does not have to be work-related. SSD are funds paid through the federal Social Security Administration (SSA). The support is for those suffering from a physical or mental disability preventing them from earning income through gainful employment, regardless of the cause of that disability.
How Do I Qualify for Benefits?
To meet eligibility requirements, you must:
- Have worked jobs that paid into SSA
- Have enough work credits earned
- Have a condition meeting the SSA’s criteria for disability, and that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
- Be unable to perform “substantial, gainful activity” (SGA) because of your condition.
- Be under the age for full retirement
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How Does the SSA Determine Whether I am Disabled?
You will have to provide extensive evidence, including doctor’s reports, test results, information regarding your prognosis, and employment history, among other documentation. In reviewing your case, the SSA will consider:
- Employment status: If you are still working and earning over a specified amount, you cannot receive SSD.
- The severity of your condition: To meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” your condition must prevent you from performing basic work-related tasks, such as walking or sitting, lifting, and remembering.
- The type of condition: The SSA has an extensive list of conditions considered debilitating enough to prevent sufferers from engaging in SGA. If your condition is not included on the list, you may not be eligible. However, there are exceptions, and an SSD lawyer will pursue those exceptions on your behalf.
- Your work ability: The SSA will investigate your ability to perform any past jobs, even with your condition, or see if there are other jobs someone with your ability can perform. If not, you may qualify for benefits.
What Are Work Credits?
Work credits are units representing time worked and money you have paid into the Social Security Administration. To collect Social Security benefits upon retirement, you must have earned at least 40 credits. It is likely you will earn more credits than needed for retirement benefits. However, these extra credits do not increase your retirement payments, which are based on an average of your income over your years of work.
The amount of income required to earn a credit can change every year. For 2022, $1,510 in covered earnings (covered earnings paid into SSA) is the amount required to receive one credit. You can earn up to four credits per year.
Not every job pays into Social Security, and there are other jobs for which credits are calculated differently.
Can I Collect My Deceased Spouse’s Benefits?
If you are disabled and your deceased spouse worked and paid into SSA, you may be able to collect your spouse’s benefits. The same possibility applies to surviving divorced spouses with disabilities. An individual may not be able to seek widows benefits if they have remarried or their spouse passed away in the remote past.
To collect, you must be between 50 and 60 years of age and have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. Also, the onset of the disability must have occurred before or within seven years of your spouse’s death.
Are Benefits Available to Children with Disabilities?
The SSA provides benefits for children born with disabilities or who experience a disabling injury or illness before the age of 22. Since this population does not have the opportunity to earn work credits, the SSA has other criteria for determining eligibility.
Secure Your Financial Future
Bring security to your household’s financial future by scheduling a free consultation with a skilled, empathetic Social Security Disability attorney from Pilzer and Klein. Your lawyer will give you support and loyalty from day one, filing all legal documentation and evidence and ensuring your application produces the best possible outcome.
If you have already applied and been denied benefits, your attorney will review your options for appeal. Start working toward a more stable financial future by contacting us today.