We measure work in "work credits." You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.
To be eligible for most types of benefits (such as benefits based on blindness or retirement), you must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between age 21 and the year in which you reach age 62 or become disabled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits. A minimum of six work credits is required, regardless of age.
To qualify for Social Security benefits based on a disability other than blindness, you must have worked long enough and recently enough
under Social Security. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you became disabled. You generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
The rules are as follows:
Before age 24 –– You may qualify if you have six work credits earned in the three–year period ending when your disability starts.
Age 24 to 31 –– You may qualify if you have credit for having worked half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled.
EXAMPLE: If at age 27 you become disabled, you would need 12 work credits in the past six years (between age 21 and age 27).
Age 31 and older –– In general, you will need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart below. You must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you become disabled