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Financial Requirements for SSDI—2013

Jacques Chambers, CLU,
Benefits Consultant

Posted March 19, 2013

SSDI is unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Under SSI, if you are disabled or age 65 or older, you are eligible once you show your assets and income are low enough to qualify. Under SSDI you need to have paid into Social Security through F.I.C.A. payroll taxes.

For SSDI benefits, Social Security doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor or what your resources or other income are; you are eligible for SSDI benefits as long as you meet that one financial requirement and are considered disabled. If Bill Gates or George Clooney becomes disabled, they could be eligible for SSDI benefits. 

Am I Eligible for SSDI? The easiest and way to find out for sure is to go online to www.ssa.gov/mystatement. That site will take you through a brief identity confirmation and will show you a Statement of Earnings. That will show your earnings by year as reported to Social Security and the estimated monthly benefit amount at Early Retirement, Normal Retirement Age, and Age 70. It will also show you the estimated benefit if you become disabled, and, if you are not eligible for SSDI because you haven’t paid enough into Social Security, it will state that as well.

SSDI Financial Eligibility Rules
Like all government programs, the rules for determining financial eligibility can get very involved. They look at the Work Credits (formerly called Quarters) that you accumulate as you work and pay into Social Security through F.I.C.A. payroll taxes. It is the accumulation of these Work Credits that determines your eligibility to apply for SSDI.

What are Work Credits?
Work Credits used to be called Quarters and you earned one Quarter when your earnings exceeded a certain amount (see Table below) in a Calendar Quarter of the year.

In 1978, the law changed. They are now called Work Credits. You earn 1 work credit when you earn the minimum required earnings for that calendar year. You can earn up to 4 work credits each calendar year, even if all your earnings were in one quarter.

If you have been employed on a full-time basis, fairly continuously over the years, the following determines your financial eligibility:
 

  • If you become disabled before age 24, you generally need six Work Credits during the three-year period ending when your disability begins.

  • If you're between the ages of 24 through 30, you generally need to have the number of Work Credits equal to half of the period between age 21 and the time you become disabled.

  • If you're disabled at age 31 or older, you need to have accumulated the number of Work Credits shown in the following table:

  Disabled At Age

  Work Credits Needed

31 through 42

20

43-44

22

45-46

24

47-48

26

49-50

28

51-52

30

53-54

32

55-56

34

57-58

36

59-60

38

61 or older

40

NOTE: However, at least 20 those Work Credits must have occurred within the 10 years (40 quarters) immediately before you became disabled.

For example: if you are 44 years old, and you have been working steadily and paying F.I.C.A. taxes since you were 20, you ARE ELIGIBLE for SSDI benefits if you become disabled since you have well over 22 Work Credits with 20 of those Work Credits earned in the most recent 40 quarters.

Another example: You become disabled at age 50, and for the past 6 years you were a school teacher or government employee and DID NOT PAY F.I.C.A. payroll taxes. Before that you worked in private industry and paid F.I.C.A. taxes for over 20 years. You ARE NOT ELIGIBLE for SSDI benefits. Although you paid F.I.C.A. taxes for more than the 28 Work Credits required, only 16 (4 years) of the Work Credits were paid in the last ten years instead of the required 20. (You will still be eligible for regular retirement benefits.)

If Your Employment Was Part-Time or Irregular…
If some of your work history was part-time or your income otherwise low, then you need to know what earnings were reported in each calendar year upon which F.I.C.A. payroll taxes were withheld.

The minimum amount of earnings to earn one Work Credit changes each year. Below is a table that shows the minimum amount required to count as 1 work credit:


Year
EARNED

Amount of wages or self-employment income that must be earned in order to acquire ONE work credit of coverage

 

1978

$250

1979

$260

1980

$290

1981

$310

1982

$340

1983

$370

1984

$390

1985

$410

1986

$440

1987

$460

1988

$470

1989

$500

1990

$520

1991

$540

1992

$570

1993

$590

1994

$620

1995

$630

1996

$640

1997

$670

1998

$700

1999

$740

2000

$780

2001

$830

2002

$870

2003

$890

2004

$900

2005

$920

2006

$970

2007

$1,000

2008

$1,050

2009

$1,090

2010

$1,120

2011

$1,120

2012

$1,130

2013

$1,160

You don’t have to work in all four calendar quarters of a year to get 4 work credits, as long as your earnings in that year are four times the quarterly minimum for that year or greater.However, you can never earn more than 4 work credits in any one calendar year.

If You Are a Veteran of the Military…

Veterans of the military are eligible to receive extra earnings which can supplement for Work Credit determination based on their active duty:

Period When On Active Duty

Extra Amount Counted Toward Work Credit As If It Were Earned Wages

From 01-01-1957 and 12-31-1977

$ 300 for each quarter of active duty

01-01-1978 and 12-31-2001

$100 for each $300 of actual military pay up to a maximum extra credit of $1,200 per year

2002 and After

There are no special extra earnings credits for military service

All these rules may seem daunting, but remember, if you have worked most of your adult life and paid F.I.C.A. through payroll deduction, chances are you will be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) if you become unable to work. If there is any doubt about your financial eligibility, start the application process anyway. Social Security will advise you early in the process if there is a problem with financial eligibility.

 

 

Confused about applying for disability? Click here

[Jacques Chambers, CLU, and his company, Chambers Benefits Consulting, have over 35 years of experience in health, life and disability insurance and Social Security disability benefits. For the past twelve years, he has been assisting people with their rights, problems, and other issues concerning benefits and disability. He can be reached at jacques@helpwithbenefits.com or through his website at: http://www.helpwithbenefits.com.]

 

Copyright March 2013– Hepatitis C Support Project - All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint is granted and encouraged with credit to the Hepatitis C Support Project.

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