Duration of Work Test

Social Security Attorneys Advising Residents of Massachusetts

If you have recently become disabled due to a work-related injury, chronic illness, or some other medical condition, you may be considering applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. In order to do so, there are two important types of qualifications that you must meet. First, your medical condition must constitute a disability under the SSA’s book of impairment listings or one of the SSA’s disability tests. Second, you must have sufficient work history, or work credits, to meet the SSA’s standards for eligibility. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security lawyers have extensive experience helping Massachusetts residents who are applying for SSDI, and we are available to assist you.

Work History Requirements and SSDI

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, a potential applicant must not only be disabled but also have contributed fairly consistently to Social Security throughout his or her working years. This is because SSDI is a federal benefits program that is funded through taxpayer paycheck contributions. Accordingly, the SSA requires that potential applicants have worked a certain number of years such that they have made sufficient contributions to SSDI before applying for benefits. This requirement is evaluated by looking at an applicant’s “work credits.” Work credits are earned based on how much an individual has received in wages for work and, correspondingly, how much he or she has contributed to Social Security. Each year, an individual can earn a maximum of four work credits. Over time, these work credits are added up to determine SSDI eligibility.

Measuring Work Credits

There are two tests that an SSDI applicant must pass related to work credits. The first is the recent work test. The second is the duration of work test. The duration of work test looks at an individual’s work history over the entirety of his or her career, rather than just the most recent years of work. Depending on age, an individual must have worked a certain number of years and acquired a certain number of work credits to qualify for SSDI under the duration of work test. The exact requirements are set forth by the SSA. For individuals between 21 and 24 years of age, they must have worked at least one and a half years in total before being eligible for disability, which translates into six work credits. For those between 24 and 31, the requirement is that the individual must have worked between 1.5 and 4.5 years, while those ages 31 to 42 must have worked at least five years in total, equaling 20 work credits. After age 42, the SSA’s requirements generally require an additional two work credits for every two additional years in age.

While these thresholds are not overly intensive, they do mean that an SSDI applicant must have engaged in some form of consistent gainful employment during his or her career. This employment may have been interrupted for an extended period, or it may have occurred in shorter intervals, but it must be completed in some way.

Seek Legal Guidance in Massachusetts for Your Government Benefits Claim

As an SSDI applicant, you may be focused on gathering the tests and medical records needed to prove your disability, or on obtaining necessary statements from doctors, physical therapists, and friends to establish that your disability has prevented you from holding a job. What you may not realize is that a threshold requirement for any application is a minimum number of years in the workforce, and a corresponding minimum number of work credits. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits attorneys can advise SSDI applicants throughout Massachusetts, as well as in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. We can help you evaluate gaps in your employment and whether your previous jobs meet the duration of work standards applicable to your age. You can contact our office at (800) 367-0871 or online. We proudly serve individuals in Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and Plymouth Counties, as well as the Merrimack River Area.