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SSDI: Work Credits: Minimum Required And How To Get More


In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

  • A "recent work" test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
  • A "duration of work" test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Number of Work Credits Required To Qualify To Receive Social Security Disability Insurance

The number of work credits required for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled.

Generally, you need 20 credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. For example, if you became disabled in 2016, and you're 50 years old, you will need to have earned 20 credits since 2006. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. The work does not need to have been done in any particular year.  It only has to meet the required total number of quarters, depending on your age.

The rules with respect to credits are: 

  • If you become disabled before age 24-You may qualify for SSDI if you have six credits earned in the three-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • If you become disabled between ages 24 and 31-You may qualify for SSDI if you have credit for having worked half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example: If you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for three years of work (4 credits a year times 3 years = 12 credits) out of the past six years.
  • If you become disabled at age 31 or older-In general, you will need to have the number of work credits shown in the following chart. Unless you are blind, at least 20 of the credits must have been earned in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.

If You Are A Few Credits Short Of Eligibility For SSDI

It would be nice to be able to purchase additional credits by voluntarily contributing money to the system -- but that is not possible. However, keep in mind that you only have to earn $1.260 in 2016 to earn a credit - you do not have to work the entire four quarters. The earnings can all be in one month, or even in one day if you're lucky.

Born After 1929 Become Disabled At Age

Credits You Need

31 through 42




















62 or older



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