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What should I know about credits for Social Security Disability?

For Missourians who are injured and unable to work, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for injuries can be a lifesaver. However, one aspect that many applicants are not fully aware of is among the most important: Social Security credits. There are a certain number of credits accrued from work that the person must have to get SSD benefits. For those who work, but do not have enough credits to qualify, they will retain the credits they have accumulated. If they go back to work, the credits they earn can be added to the credits they had in the past.

Credits are earned through working and paying Social Security taxes. For 2017, the worker must earn $1,300 for one work credit per year and $5,200 to get the maximum total of four for a year. For those who earn more than they need for their lifetime, they will not receive an increase in benefits. The average amount the person earned will determine the monthly payments. When seeking Social Security Disability benefits for injuries, the number of work credits the person needs will vary, depending on his or her age at the time of disability.

In general, 40 credits are needed. Twenty must have been earned in the previous 10 years and concluded in the year the worker became disabled. If it is a younger worker, it might be possible to qualify if they have fewer credits.

For those who are injured prior to turning 24, they might qualify with six credits in the previous three years before the disability. People age 24 to 31 might qualify if they are credited for working half the time between age 21 and the time of disability. The Social Security Administration uses a chart for those 31 and older. For example, a person between 31 and 42 would need 20 credits. Someone age 44 would need 22 credits, and so on.

For people who suffer an injury and cannot work, it is imperative that they understand the number of work credits they have and how many are needed, based on benefits' requirements. A legal professional can explain how work credits are counted and help when seeking Social Security Disability benefits after an injury.

Source: SSA.gov, "Benefits Planner: Social Security Credits," accessed Jan. 6, 2018

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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