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Many people who want to file an application for SSDI benefits are shocked to learn they don’t qualify for benefits. Why don’t they? Because, to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must do more than meet the SSA’s medical rules. You must also have earned work credits by working. Therefore, please understand that the SSD program is an “insurance” program that is tied to your work history. Additionally, if you are still working, then you cannot apply for SSDI benefits. SSDI benefits are only available to you if you cannot work at any job for over one year.

You contribute to the SSDI program every time taxes are taken out of your work check. If you work for an employer, then you pay FICA taxes. Likewise, if you are self-employed, then you make contributions through SECA taxes. In order to be insured and qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have enough work credits.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. In general, you need 40 credits, with 20 earned in the last 10 years prior to becoming unable to work. However, younger workers can qualify with fewer work credits.


You earn work credits by working. And, of course, paying your taxes.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) converts your earnings into work credits. Every year, the SSA awards you work credits based upon the amount of money you earn. You can earn up to four work credits each year. The dollar amount you need to earn to get one work credit changes every year.

In 2024, you get one credit for each $1,730 you earn. Therefore, you need to earn $6920 in the year 2024 to get four credits of insurance coverage. You can earn up to four credits per year. However, you do not need to earn $1730 in each quarter. Instead, if you earn $6920 in the first quarter, then you earn 4 credits for the whole year. The same is true no matter when or in what quarter you earn the money. You simply need to earn $6920 gross in the year 2024 and you will have four work credits.

In 2023, the amount of money you needed to earn for one quarter of coverage was $1,640. So, in 2023, you needed to earn $6,560 to obtain four credits for the year. Again, it doesn’t matter in which quarter you earn the money. You simply need to earn the amount that is set for the year and you will earn four work credits.

work credits - Grunge black great work word square rubber seal stamp on white background


In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to have earned a certain number of work credits. Normally, for example, you need to have earned between 20 and 40 work credits. Additionally, a minimum of 5 of those work credits must be earned within the last 10 years prior to becoming disabled.

However, the number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends upon your age. The older you are, the more work credits you need to qualify for benefits. Below you will find a table that shows you how many work credits you need to qualify for benefits. The number of credits is lower if you are younger. The table also includes the number of years of work to earn the work credits.


Disabled At Age   Number of Credits Needed  Years of Work
21 through 27 6 1.5
30 8 2
32 10 2.5
34 12 3
36 14 3.5
38 16 4
40 18 4.5
42 20 5
44 22 5.5
46 24 6
48 26 6.5
50 28 7
52 30 7.5
54 32 8
56 34 8.5
58 36 9
60 38 9.5
62 or older 40 10


If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, then you can file for SSI benefits instead. However, SSI is a needs based program for those with limited income and few assets. You must also be disabled or blind. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the income and asset rules. But, you also need to meet the medical criteria, which is the same for SSDI benefits.

There are many people who don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. But, there are also people who have severe medical conditions who do not qualify for SSI benefits. The reason they cannot get SSI benefits is because they have too much household income or too many assets. For example, perhaps they are married and their spouse makes $60,000 a year. That high of an income eliminates the disabled spouse from getting SSI benefits.

The same is true if you have too many assets. Let’s say you meet the medical rules to win SSI benefits, but you own two motorcycles and a boat. Those “extra” assets mean you don’t qualify for SSI benefits. Why? Because those extra assets, which are beyond one vehicle and one home, can be sold for income. Therefore, they are extra money for you. As such, you cannot be paid SSI benefits until you no longer have those assets. Learn more about the rules and how to qualify for SSI benefits.


Paying taxes by working is only one factor that qualifies you for SSDI benefits. Once you have enough work credits, you still must prove to the SSA that you are disabled. In order to win benefits, you must be unable to work at all jobs due to your medical condition. Your proof must be medical records that support your diagnosis and your symptoms.

There are two types of Social Security benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can file an application online at the Social Security’s website for either one or both. The SSA uses a five step review process to determine if they can pay you benefits. Below, you can find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can file for:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who can no longer work due to a severe medical condition like Ewing sarcoma. The amount of money you receive from SSDI benefits is based on the taxes you paid during your working years. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify.

A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need depends on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits when you apply, then you can be file for SSI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for only those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. If you make more than a certain amount of money per month you cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of everyone who contributes to your home. The SSA also counts your personal income and assets. You cannot get SSI benefits, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI. Even if you have cancer, you must still meet the income and asset rules. Or, you will not be paid SSI benefits.


You can check on how many work credits you have by looking at your earnings record. The SSA used to send your earnings record to you in the mail. Now, however, you can look at your earnings record online on the SSA’s website.

All you have to do is go to the website which leads you to create an account called MySSA. MySSA is an online portal that allows you to access your Social Security information. It also allows you to view estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.

Additionally, you can view your earnings history. The account shows the amount of income you have earned each year that you have paid taxes. You should check your earnings record and work history at least once a year. Check to make sure that your employer reported your income correctly. Your future retirement benefits and the amount of your SSDI benefit depend on your earnings record being correct.

To create a MySSA account, you’ll need to provide personal information to verify your identity. For example, you will need to type in your Social Security number, date of birth, and other details. Once you verify your identity, then you can set up your account and start using the online services at MySSA.


You do not need to file for Social Security benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm. We will help you file your application. Also, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete it. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, then the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can. Benefits are tied to the date you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to file your application is a day you lose benefits.


In the last 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI hearings for our clients. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in ongoing and past due SSD benefits. During the time we have been in business, we have seen the SSA rules become more difficult.

In our opinion, it is harder than ever to win Social Security cases, even if you have the work credits. Also, the medical evidence requirements and listing rules are more difficult to meet. Those who go to the SSA hearing without a lawyer are not usually successful in winning benefits.

If you know you won’t be able to work more than 12 months, then file for SSDI benefits. Also, you need to do it right away. Don’t wait, thinking you might get better quickly. If you do, then you can withdraw the application.

Meanwhile, if treatment doesn’t work, then you have at least started the process. SSDI benefits are available to you if you start an application on the Social Security website.

Remember, to win SSDI benefits, you must first file an application. Many people believe that once they file an application, the SSA will pay them back in time. They think they are owed benefits when their medical condition first began. However, that is not true. Benefits are tied to the date that you apply. They are not tied to the date that you got sick. SSDI benefits can only go back in time one year prior to the application date. And, they can only go back as long as you were not working due to your medical condition. SSI benefits begin on the date that you file an application. So, there is no time to wait.


If you have questions about your work credits and how to win SSDI benefits, then contact us. Our SSD law firm can help you apply for SSDI benefits. Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court when the time comes.  If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court. We can represent you not matter where you live, whether it be Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, or California.

If you have Ewing sarcoma, then you need legal help to get your SSI benefits. You need to focus on your health. Advances in medical research and treatments are ongoing and are offering more options for people with this form of cancer. Additionally, medical trials can provide access to new treatments. Do what you can to take advantage of any treatment your doctor offers.

Also, we bring over 60 years of legal experience to your case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience. You can learn more on our About Us page. Together, we have won over 20,000 Social Security cases. You can trust that we will do everything we can to win your SSDI benefits.

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