How long you need to work in order to be eligible for disability benefits will depend on how old you are when your disability arises.

Your eligibility won’t depend on how many years you have worked but instead how many work credits you have earned. You must make a certain amount of money to earn these credits. For instance, in 2013, you would earn one credit for each $1,160 you earned in wages. You can earn no more than four credits per year.

Generally, if you are between the ages of 31 and 42, you will need to earn at least 40 credits, with 20 of those credits being earned during the 10 years leading up to the onset of your disability. Different rules will apply if you are blind.

There is another type of Social Security benefit that does not require work credits, called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You must be disabled to receive an SSI benefit, but you must also meet certain income and asset limitations to qualify for SSI.

You can learn more about other requirements for disability benefits at our SSD Application and Appeals Process page. You can also check out the SSA’s Benefits Planner for more information.

Posted in: SSD FAQs