People can have major accidents or develop serious medical conditions at any point in their lives. Those who suddenly become unable to work may need to apply for disability benefits to replace their lost paychecks after acquiring a serious medical issue. However, many young adults do not have the work history necessary to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits because of their age.
The general rule for worker eligibility requires 40 credits, and applicants for benefits need to have accumulated at least 20 of those credits within the last decade. Only those who have supported themselves for years can expect to qualify for full SSDI benefits when they can no longer work because of health issues. Younger workers who have not been on the job for a full decade may not yet have 40 credits. They may only have a few years of work experience. Can young workers who have been on the job for less than 10 years qualify for SSDI benefits?
There is a sliding scale for worker credits
The rules for SSDI benefits include special provisions for people in unusual circumstances. The Social Security Administration (SSA) imposes slightly different rules for workers depending on their age at the time that they apply for benefits.
The 40-credit rule for qualifying for benefits applies to anyone who is age 31 or older. However, younger workers can qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer credits. Those between the ages of 24 and 31 need to have credit for working roughly half of the time since they reached age 21. Those who are under the age of 24 can qualify with just six credits earned within the three years before they apply for benefits.
A worker will receive one credit for every $1,640 they earn through their employment. The SSA only allows someone to accrue four credits at most each year. Even young workers in unskilled professions, like retail jobs, can potentially have sufficient credits for SSDI benefits when they find themselves unable to work for at least 12 months because of a debilitating medical condition.
Learning more about the rules for SSDI may help people feel more confident about applying when they cannot work regardless of their age at the time that they need benefits.