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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

Qualifying for SSD Benefits

The attorneys at GG&F have personally seen that their clients receive the monetary benefits they deserve while recovering from their injury or illness.

Earning Work Credits

You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job that deducts Social Security taxes from your paycheck. In general, you need to have earned 40 work credits to be eligible, with 20 of them earned within the last 10 years unless you are under the age of 31, where the requirement is lower. Unfortunately, the SSA does not make understanding your work history and eligibility easy to understand. Let’s break this down into plain language that is easier to understand.

You can earn up to four work credits per year, and how many you earn is always based on your total yearly wages or your total self-employment income. For the year 2022, you can earn one work credit for every $1,510 you earn in wages or self-employment income. That means that once you’ve earned $6,040, you’ve earned your four credits for 2022. Every year, the amount increases slightly, so it will be different in 2023 and subsequent years. However, the credits you have earned will remain on your Social Security record even if you change jobs or have no earnings for a while.

Members of the military receive Social Security credits the same way civilian employees do and may be able to earn additional credits under certain conditions. If you work for a nonprofit or religious organization that doesn’t pay Social Security taxes, work on a farm, or are a domestic worker, the SSA recommends reaching out to your employer to learn more about how they will calculate your work credits.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on how old you were when your disability began. Suppose your qualifying disability developed before you turned 24 years old. In that case, you will need six credits in the three years prior to the onset of your disability, which is generally about 1 1/2 years of work. If you were between the ages of 24 and 30 when you developed your qualifying disability, then you will need credits for half of the time between age 21 and the age you were when your disability began.

It’s understandable to have questions about your work credits and how many you have accrued. Thankfully, the SSA can assist you in determining how many you have. A Fresno social security disability lawyer will also be happy to calculate how many work credits you have.


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Survivor Benefits

Suppose you are a widow or widower whose deceased spouse worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years. In that case, you may be eligible for survivor’s benefits, which will help you financially during this difficult time. A widow or widower may receive the full benefits that their spouse accrued once the surviving spouse reaches full retirement age, or they may opt to receive reduced benefits as early as age 60. However, if you are a widow or widower with a qualifying disability, you can receive full benefits from your deceased spouse’s Social Security as early as age 50.

These benefits may also extend to the children of the deceased to help the family. In some cases, the stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children may also receive benefits, which many people find useful. Widows or widowers taking care of children of the deceased who are age 16 or younger, or have a qualifying disability, may receive full Social Security benefits. Unmarried children up to age 19 who attend elementary or secondary school full-time may also receive benefits.

Check If You Fall Within the Required Income Level

SSD insurance benefits are only for individuals who cannot work, so if you continue to work and earn money, you would be ineligible for benefits since your income would be evidence that you are not too disabled to work.

In order to qualify for SSD benefits, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). What this means is that if your monthly income is over a certain amount – one set for individuals who are blind, another for non-blind individuals – then the SSA will assume that you’re well enough to work and don’t need a supplemental income from SSD benefits. For 2022, the monthly SGA amount for non-blind individuals is $1350; for statutorily blind individuals, the monthly limit for 2022 is $2260. If you make more than these amounts, it’s best to consider other options and discuss them with an attorney.

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