How Social Security Disability Insurance Determines Benefits

Rebecca experiences daily bouts with unbearable Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. The simple task of everyday hygiene can exhaust her daily supply of energy.  Rebecca purchased the HypoGal and Disability Benefits book and she emailed me some questions about Social Security Disability Insurance.  I recently updated my HypoGal Email system to Office 365 and I am still learning how to navigate the mail system. I am not able to find Rebecca’s email so I hope she reads this post.

Rebecca wrote me that she did not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because she did not have enough work units.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have enough work credits.

Your Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. 

The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2014, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,200 of wages or self-employment income.

When you’ve earned $4,800, you’ve earned your four credits for the year. In 2015, you will earn one credit for each $1,220 of wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $4,880, you will have earned your four credits for the year.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

You must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.

Generally, SSDI is paid monthly benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more, or who have a condition expected to end in death. The disability must be so severe the worker cannot work, considering age, education, and experience.

Rebecca:  If you are reading this post I had a couple of questions.

Do you know exactly how many works credits you have?

You mentioned you had enough work credits prior.

Is it possible the start date you developed your illness began during the period of your active work credits?

You can email me at

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