If an individual is currently unable to work and disabled, he or she may be able to receive disability benefits while out of work.

Disability benefits received from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help cover the many expenses associated with a disability, including medical bills and other daily costs.

Depending on the applicant’s situation, there are two kinds of Social Security disability benefits available. One option is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which depends on the individual’s financial needs, while the other is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which will depend on the applicant’s employment history and is paid through income tax.

Accumulation of Work Credits

If an individual wants to receive SSDI, he or she needs to earn a number of work credits within a certain period of time. These work credits are calculated based on the total amount of time worked, and employees earn them every year that they earn a wage and pay taxes on their income via the SSA.

A majority of workers will be able to earn a maximum of four work credits in a single year. However, the precise amount an employee can earn will vary depending on his or her earnings and status as an employee.

Regardless of circumstance, applicants aged 31 or older who want to receive SSDI benefits will need to have earned 20 work credits in a period of 15 years to be eligible.

Work Credit Requirements for Younger Applicants

Applicants under 31 are normally not required to have earned 20 credits in 15 years because they’ve likely been a part of the workforce for less than 15 years. Subsequently, different rules are in place for younger individuals.

If an applicant is under 24 years old, he or she could be eligible for disability benefits with as many as six credits earned in the three years prior to becoming disabled. Disabled individuals who are between the ages of 24 and 30, however, will need to have worked for around half of the time between the time of disability and the age of 21.

The SSA website has more details about work credits according to a person’s age.

Even if an applicant is disabled and doesn’t meet the work credit requirements for a specific age group, other options are available for benefits while off work. In many cases, SSI benefits may be available depending on the applicant’s financial need.