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What are Social Security Disability "credits"?

Most people know that they must have a work history in order to qualify for Social Security Disability. And many people might have heard that this work history requirement has something to do with "credits." But, those same people might be wondering, "What exactly are Social Security credits?"

Credits are calculated based on how long a person works and pays Social Security taxes. It doesn't take much to earn a credit: one credit is earned for $1,200 of income earned. A maximum of four credits can be earned in a calendar year. Thus, anyone who earns at least $4,800 in income in a given year will have earned the maximum number of credits. For a person who is employed full-time, this is usually not a problem.

The amount of credits a person has comes into play when an application for SSD benefits is submitted. Although there are some rather technical formulas that the Social Security Administration uses to determine if a person has worked for long enough based on their age, it is sufficient to say that a person must have worked rather steadily in order to have enough credits: sporadic periods of employment could be problematic.

The longer a person works and the more that person earns, the easier it will be to meet this part of the requirements for qualifying for SSD benefits. The quick way to know what the SSA is seeing when they pull up an applicant's information is to look at the amount on your W-2 tax forms. Of course, an applicant will still need to provide the necessary medical documentation regarding the actual disability. The Social Security Administration provides quite a bit of SSD information on their website for anyone who has questions.

Source: socialsecurity.gov, "How You Earn Credits," Accessed on Nov. 22, 2014

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