When you apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, you probably assume that all you need to qualify is an eligible disability that prevents you from working. While that is arguably the most important qualifier, there is another thing you must have in order to receive benefits—a sufficient amount of Social Security credits.

Because Social Security disability is an earned benefit, meaning that you must have worked (and therefore paid into Social Security) in order to receive payments, the Social Security credit system is a way of tracking your earnings over the years. In order to be eligible to receive Social Security disability (SSD) payments, you need a minimum number of credits earned in total and within the last few years.

How You Earn Social Security Credits

The Social Security Administration awards credits based on your total wages for the year. The 2015 rate for earning one credit is $1,220, and you can earn a maximum amount of four credits per year. This means that whether you earned $4,880 or $100,000 in a year, you will receive four credits for that year. Once you earn a credit, it cannot be taken away, but currency of your credits will come into play when you apply for SSD benefits.

How Many Credits You Need to Qualify for SSD in New Jersey

The number of credits you will need to qualify for SSD benefits will depend on your age when you become disabled; generally speaking, the younger you are, the fewer credits you need to qualify. There is also a requirement that a certain number of your credits must have been earned within a certain timeframe, which is also determined by your age.

For instance, if you are under 24 when you become disabled, you must have earned six credits in the previous three years. If you are 62 or older, you must have earned 40 credits total, 20 of which must have been earned within the past 10 years. Below are other age requirements based on age at the date of disability:

  • Ages between 24 and 31: Credits for half of the years between 21 and your current age; if you are 29, you need credit for four years of work (16 credits) in the past eight years.
  • Ages 31 through 42: At least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately prior to your date of disability.
  • Ages 44 and up: 20 credits in the 10 years immediately prior to your date of disability, plus two credits for every two years older than 42 (i.e. a 50-year-old needs 28 credits total, at least 20 in the 10 years immediately before date of disability plus eight credits).

Have Questions? Let My Morris Plains Law Firm Help

If you are concerned about your eligibility based on credits or have faced resistance from the Social Security Administration, my firm can help you learn if you are truly eligible for SSD benefits. Contact a Social Security disability attorney today to schedule your free consultation, either by phone or by clicking on the live chat link now.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer