Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Social Security Retirement or Old Age benefits require you to have a work history during which you made contributions to the Social Security Fund through the payment of Social Security taxes.
Over the course of your work history, you paid Social Security taxes at a defined percentage, based on your annual earnings. In other words, the amount of your annual earnings determines the amount of Social Security taxes you paid.
For example, if you earned $14,000 in 2017, then you and your employer shared responsibility for paying Social Security taxes. Each of you contributed 6.2% of your annual earnings to the Social Security fund.
Based on this example, your earnings record with the SSA would reflect:
- $868.00 paid by you
- and another $868.00 paid by your employer
- for a total of $1,736.00 on your record for 2015.
Generally speaking, to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must have an earnings record that reports:
- you worked at least five of the last 10 years prior to becoming disabled
- you have at least 20 work credits from that period.
In 2017, one work credit was equal to $1,410 of earnings. In other words, to have earned four work credits in 2017, your earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes had to have been at least $5,640.
In some cases, younger individuals who become disabled without sufficient work credits may still be able to receive SSDI benefits. Otherwise, if the required work credits are not reflected in your earnings history, you may be denied SSDI, though you may still be able to receive disability through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
You can review, save, and print your earnings record with the Social Security Administration by setting up an account at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/