Some employees have very thorough benefits packages that provide them with private disability insurance. They can rely on that coverage if they are unable to work due to a medical issue. However, not all workers have private insurance coverage to protect them after some kind of medical emergency. Thankfully, workers from all backgrounds, including independent contractors, make contributions to Social Security. Those contributions make them eligible for both retirement benefits and disability benefits if they become unable to work for at least one year due to a debilitating medical condition.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits help people maintain a basic standard of living if they get hurt or develop a medical condition that prevents them from working. However, they need to have a significant work history to qualify for full benefits.
How long must someone work to secure full benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards benefits based on the number of credits workers have accrued. Full SSDI benefits are available once someone has 40 total credits. They also need to have a recent work history. At least 20 of their credits will need to be from within the last 10 years. A worker receives one credit for each $1,640 they earn, but the SSA will only award someone at most four credits per year. Those who have worked full-time or even part-time will likely have accumulated the maximum credits for each year of their employment history. They can therefore likely qualify for SSDI benefits.
Workers who are under the age of 31 and who are unlikely to have a full decade of employment on their record may worry that they do not have enough credits to qualify. Thankfully, the SSA does have a sliding scale that applies when workers are 31 years of age or younger. The youngest workers can sometimes qualify for benefits with as few as six credits.
Those who are unsure about their credits may need to refer to the last statement provided to them in the mail by the SSA or reach out to their local office to confirm how many credits they have accrued. Knowing about the rules that govern SSDI benefits can help people navigate the often confusing application process, as can seeking legal guidance.