Preliminary Issues: SSDI
Am I insured?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is insurance on income from work (also known as earned income). Being disabled and unable to work does not automatically qualify you for SSDI benefits. You must also be fully insured in the program. You become fully insured by acquiring work credits for each year you have worked. Your income from work should be reported to the Social Security Administration via your annual tax returns. You can earn up to 4 quarters per year. Unearned income (from gifts, interest, capital gains, investments, etc.) do not count toward your work credits.
In 2012, one credit is registered for each $1,130.00 earned. If you earn $4,520.00 or more in 2012, you will be credited with the maximum 4 credits. These credits are also known as “quarters of coverage.” The amount for each credit is adjusted over time. You earned credits in previous years at lower threshold amounts.
If you are 24 years of age or older at the time you become disabled, you can count work credits earned beginning at age 21. If you become disabled before age 24, you can count work credits earned earlier. Social Security rules require that a portion of your work credits be earned within a certain period of time before the onset of your disability. The portion and time frame vary with age. For someone who becomes disabled prior to age 24, he or she must have earned 6 credits in 3 years prior to becoming disabled. Someone aged 24-31 at the onset of disability must have earned half the credits between age 21 and the time he/she became disabled. Someone aged 31 or older at the onset of disability must have earned 20 work credits within the past 10 years. This is also known as the 20/40 rule. In other words, you are fully insured in the SSDI program if (1) you have enough TOTAL credits, AND (2) you have enough RECENT credits.
If the above criteria regarding the time in which work credits are earned is met, then a person must demonstrate he or she has earned a sufficient overall total of work credits to be invested in the SSDI program. Persons age 31-42 must have an overall total of 20 work credits. At 44, the number increases to 22. At 46, to 24, and so on, until at age 58, a person must have 36 total work credits to be fully insured in SSDI. For an odd number age, a person must have the work credits needed for the lower age. In the case of someone 47 years of age, he or she must have the number of work credits needed by someone 46 years of age, or 24 credits.
The above formulas may sound complicated, and they are. Generally, you don’t have to worry about the computations of your work credits or insured status. The Social Security Administration keeps track of these running tallies, and will inform you whether you are invested in the program. Occasionally, errors may occur on your record. If there is a mistake, I’m happy to represent you before the Social Security Administration to correct your record and protect your insured status.