How do I meet the earnings requirement for disability benefits?

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Social Security Disability Information Guide

How do I meet the earnings requirement for disability benefits?

In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

  1. A "recent work" test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
  2. A "duration of work" test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Certain blind workers have to meet only the "duration of work" test.

The table below shows the rules for how much work you need for the "recent work" test based on your age when your disability began. The rules in this table are based on the calendar quarter in which you turned or will turn a certain age.

The calendar quarters are:
First Quarter: January 1 through March 31
Second Quarter: April 1 through June 30
Third Quarter: July 1 through September 30
Fourth Quarter: October 1 through December 31

Rules Needed for the Recent Work Test

If you become disabled...

Then you generally need:

In or before the quarter you turn age 24

1.5 years of work during the three-year period ending with the quarter your disability began.

In the quarter after you turn age 24 but before the quarter you turn age 31

Work during half the time for the period beginning with the quarter after you turned 21 and ending with the quarter you became disabled.
Example: If you become disabled in the quarter you turned age 27, then you would need three years of work out of the six-year period ending with the quarter you became disabled.

In the quarter you turn age 31 or later

Work during five years out of the 10-year period ending with the quarter your disability began.

If you become disabled... Then you generally need:

Before age 281.5 years of work
Age 302 years
Age 343 years
Age 384 years
Age 425 years
Age 445.5 years
Age 466 years
Age 486.5 years
Age 507 years
Age 527.5 years
Age 548 years
Age 568.5 years
Age 589 years
Age 609.5 years

Continue >> When should I apply and what information do I need?

Social Security Disability Information

Who can get Social Security disability benefits?

How do I meet the earnings requirement for benefits?

 
 
 

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