How long must you work to be eligible for SSDI benefits?

Feb 2, 2023 | Social Security Disability

You are funding your future retirement when you work and have Social Security taken out of your paycheck. When you retire and begin receiving payments from Social Security, you are being repaid for your decades of hard work and contributions. 

However, what happens if you experience a serious injury or medical issue that prevents you from returning to work before retirement age?

This is when you may be eligible for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). This program, which the Social Security Administration manages, protects employed individuals who cannot work due to a disabling medical condition that lasts 12 or more months. However, you must eat certain work requirements to qualify for these benefits. 

Work history requirements

Each time you earn money for working, the SSA assigns you credits. At least 40 credits are required for most people to qualify for SSDI benefits. This is the same amount of credits a worker must have to receive retirement benefits. The SSA also requires that the person applying for SSDI have earned 20 of those credits within the past decade. 

The amount required for work credit changes yearly. In 2023, you will receive one credit for every $1,640 in self-employment income or wages. You can earn up to four credits per year. 

Age does play a role in the number of credits needed in some cases, however. For example, younger workers who have less time to acquire credits can still receive benefits. Individuals under 24 need six credits from the past three years, and those over 31 need at least 20 credits to qualify for SSDI. 

Understanding SSDI benefits requirements

Acquiring SSDI benefits is possible, regardless of your age, but it is important to learn the rules to ensure you can qualify before applying.