How do work credits and monthly income affect SSDI eligibility?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2020 | Social Security Disability Insurance

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance requires proof that an individual suffers from a debilitating injury or medical condition. To apply for benefits, an employee must also have earned a sufficient amount of taxable income during the past 10 years.

An individual may earn up to four work credits each year. Those credits go toward SSDI benefits. For every $1,410 earned, an employee receives one credit. To earn all four credits during a calendar year, an individual must earn $5,640. As noted by U.S. News & World Report, qualifying for SSDI benefits requires earning at least 40 credits.

Within the last 10 years, however, an employee must have earned 20 of their credits to apply for SSDI. If a younger individual sustains a disability before earning the required credits, the Social Security Administration may review his or her parent’s income.

Monthly earned income limit

Individuals earning more than $1,260 each month may not qualify for SSDI. Based on the amount of monthly income, the SSA may not consider an applicant disabled. If he or she can perform a job regularly, a medical condition is not debilitating. To qualify, a condition must impair an individual’s ability to carry out his or her regular job tasks.

The SSA does not usually count small and infrequent amounts of income received toward the $1,260 monthly income threshold. This may include providing errand services for friends and family, such as walking dogs or babysitting. Bills paid on an applicant’s behalf, scholarships received and dividend income may not result in a denial, as noted on the SSA website.

Medical evaluation requirement

When an applicant cannot prove that a serious condition will last for at least one year or lead to death, a denial of benefits could result. A medical evaluation confirming life-threatening or severe illnesses, however, may help push through an approval. Health issues that result from drinking or substance abuse may disqualify an applicant’s eligibility.


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