Recent Work Test

Social Security Lawyers Knowledgeably Assisting Individuals in Massachusetts

Most Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants are primarily concerned with determining whether their health conditions and medical limitations are severe enough to warrant disabled status. While this is a significant hurdle that all applicants must meet in order to receive SSDI, it is not the only qualification requirement imposed by the Social Security Administration. Applicants must also show that they have sufficient work history and wage credits to receive federal benefits. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security attorneys frequently assist Massachusetts residents with inconsistent work histories in determining their eligibility for benefits.

A Guide to the Recent Work Test

SSDI is a federal benefits program that is paid for, in part, through contributions made by taxpayers to the Social Security system. These contributions are made through wages and taken out of one’s biweekly or monthly paycheck. While a relatively modest contribution, the payments made by workers to Social Security help to ensure the continued success of the program. In return for these payments, the Social Security Administration provides that SSDI applicants are only eligible for benefits if they have contributed a certain amount to Social Security. The amount an individual contributes is known as a work credit, and an applicant must have obtained a certain number of work credits in order to be eligible for disability, depending on that person’s age and work history.

The SSA uses two tests to determine whether an individual has acquired enough work credits for SSDI eligibility. These are known as the “recent work test” and the “duration of work test.”

The recent work test looks at an applicant’s recent work history to determine how much she or he has worked in the years immediately preceding an SSDI application. The exact number of work credits required in an applicant’s recent work history depends on the age of the applicant. Specifically, applicants who are 31 years old or older must have worked at least five of the last 10 years before filing an application. Since one quarter of a work year equals one work credit, this means that the applicant must have obtained 20 work credits in the 10 years before his or her application. Importantly, these credits need not be consecutive. Thus, if an individual obtains two credits in each of the 10 years, this would be sufficient.

For individuals who are between 24 and 31 years of age, the recent work test requires that the applicant have worked at least half of the time between turning 21 and applying for SSDI. Thus, if the applicant is 27, he or she must have worked for at least three years or obtained at least 12 work credits. Finally, applicants under the age of 24 must have received at least six work credits in the three years before applying for benefits.

Discuss Your SSDI Eligibility with a Massachusetts Attorney

If you are an SSDI applicant who has maintained steady employment over the years and decades before you applied for benefits, your work history likely meets the eligibility requirement. For many applicants, however, who have struggled with illness or chronic pain, work may have been more difficult to find and keep. In these situations, people in Massachusetts can sit down with the experienced SSDI lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., to determine whether they have obtained enough work credits to pursue this option. From our Boston office, we advise individuals across Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Essex Counties, as well as the Merrimack River area. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact us online or at 1-800-367-0871.