You cannot get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits on your own work record if you don’t have enough work credits, but you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. While the SSDI program requires applicants to meet a work credits requirement, the SSI program does not.
If your application is approved for SSI benefits, you could receive monthly cash payments, Medicaid, and back pay dating from the month you originally applied. Our firm assists clients who are seeking disability benefits in Rutherfordton and other communities in North Carolina. We take calls day or night, so you do not have to wait to reach out for help.
- An overview of work credit requirements for SSDI
- How you earn work credits
- Why SSDI requires work credits
- How to qualify for SSI benefits
- How a lawyer with our firm can help you apply for disability benefits
- Call our firm before filing a Social Security Disability application
An Overview of Work Credit Requirements for SSDI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) says that you generally need at least 40 work credits over your lifetime to qualify for Social Security benefits at retirement. However, the number of credits required to qualify for SSDI varies by age. You do not want to assume that you lack the right amount of work credits based on the facts of another person’s situation. We can use the following scenario to explain the work credit system.
Suppose you worked with a 50-year-old man who became too ill to work because of Parkinson’s disease, and he had only worked at a job that paid into Social Security for 5 years. You can earn up to 4 work credits a year. In this situation, your coworker would only have 20 work credits, and likely would not qualify for benefits.
If you worked at the same place of employment for 5 years and became disabled, you might assume that you do not have enough work credit – but that assumption could be incorrect. For example, if you’re 35 years old, you would only need 20 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. Again, your age and how long and how recently you worked a job that paid into Social Security will determine how many work credits you need to apply for SSDI.
How You Earn Work Credits
You earn one work credit for every three-month block (quarter) that you work a job that pays into Social Security. You “buy” into Social Security through payroll taxes. For the year 2020, the SSA says that you must earn at least $1,410 per quarter to earn a single work credit, and $5,640 in a year to earn four work credits.
For example, a person who works 30 years at qualifying jobs could earn up to 120 work credits. Note that the number of credits you have beyond the requirement does not affect the amount of benefits you receive through this program.
Why SSDI Requires Work Credits
As the acronym indicates, SSDI is an insurance program. You pay the “premiums” of this program through the Social Security deductions that your boss takes out of your paycheck and sends to the government on your behalf. That money helps to fund the monthly Social Security disability and retirement checks that people receive.
On the other hand, the source of funding for SSI benefits is general revenues, like income taxes and additional money that the government collects. Because SSI does not use payroll deductions for Social Security taxes as its source of funding, you do not have to pay into the system and accumulate work credits to be eligible for these benefits.
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How to Qualify for SSI benefits
You can get Social Security Disability benefits even if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. The SSA offers the SSI program to disabled adults and children who have limited financial resources. It is a safety net so that people who cannot work for a living but do not qualify to collect SSDI can pay for essential items, like food, clothing, and shelter.
To qualify, you have to meet the same medical disability standards as a person does for SSDI. In addition, your income must be low, and your countable assets cannot exceed certain limits. Specifically, you could qualify for SSI benefits if:
- You have a severe illness or injury that meets the benchmarks of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, also called “the Blue Book.”
- Your disability prevents you from supporting yourself through gainful employment.
- You have very little income. This income limit can change every year. In addition, the income limit tends to vary by location because SSI is a joint program of the federal and state governments.
- Your countable assets do not exceed the SSI limit. This number can also change every year. Your home and the land it is on do not count as assets. Most cars also do not count toward your resources.
You must satisfy all of these elements to be eligible for SSI benefits. If you are struggling to understand the qualifications for SSDI or SSI, our firm can help you navigate these matters and apply for the benefits you may be entitled to because of your medical condition.
How a Lawyer with Our Firm Can Help You Apply for Disability Benefits
An attorney from our firm can offer assistance as you prepare an application for Social Security disability benefits. We can help you determine whether you have enough work credits for SSDI or should apply for SSI benefits. The law does not require you to work with a lawyer on the application and evaluation process for disability benefits, but having someone guide you can make the process go smoother.
Every year, thousands of qualifying individuals are denied Social Security Disability benefits because of errors they made on their applications. Many people have to appeal a denial of benefits to get the assistance they need. Our team can help you avoid this costly mistake or represent you during your appeal if you have already received a denial.
Call Our Firm Before Filing a Social Security Disability Application
If you suffered injuries that keep you from returning to work, you could apply for disability benefits to cover your basic needs. Even if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you could be eligible for SSI.
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we work hard to assist people who cannot work due to a disability. We want to help you apply for the benefits you may be eligible for or fight your application denial. If another party caused your injury, we could also represent you in a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit. You can call us today at (828) 373-1236 for a free consultation.