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Social Security Disability Credits Explained

April 12, 2017

Every once and a while, hard working people need help. They get injured, sick, or experience some medical issue, be it physical or psychological that prevents them from working. Unfortunately, life does not stop because you cannot work. People still need a place to live, to put food on the table,  a car, and  to purchase medicine, all as they continue to try to survive in the world. 

The United States government offers some help for those who unfortunately find themselves in a predicament caused by a disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA), a federal agency, may pay monthly benefits to a person who satisfies certain criteria under the benefits plan known as Social Security Disability Insurance. This benefit is commonly referred to as SSDI.

To become eligible for SSDI benefits, a person must qualify by working long enough in a job to accumulate credits. Credits are accumulated by working at a job that withdraws social security tax from your paycheck. You may still qualify for benefits if you are self-employed and pay the social security tax on your own.

Under the current system, every employee can earn as many as four credits per year toward social security. Many people still refer to social security eligibility as "quarters" because of quarterly reporting requirements that were once used by the Agency. Notwithstanding, since 1978, SSA has analyzed eligibility based upon full year rather than quarterly. For ease of transition, the SSA uses a system based upon allowing workers to earn four credits per year instead of four quarters per year.

The amount of credits earned does not necessarily depend upon how much time you put in at the office, but rather how much you pay into the system. In 2017, a credit may be earned by making $1,300 of income that is subject to social security taxes. Therefore, you must make $5,200 to cover the social security taxes so you can accumulate the maximum four credits allowed per year under the current system. Many workers pay more than that in annual social security taxes. The government does not permit banking of the credits. Additionally, the minimum amount required to "purchase" one credit is expected to increase because the cost of living increases each year.

Not every person who needs SSDI benefits fits into this structure. The SSA has established alternative rules for certain workers who hold jobs that do not pay into the system yet may need the benefits at some point in time during their lives. The SSA special rules govern the minimum eligibility requirements of some military members, farm workers, domestic workers, and members of the clergy or members of a religious organization who are exempt from tax withholdings.

Conversely, not every job pays into the social security system. Therefore, those employees are not eligible to receive SSDI benefits. Those jobs are:

• Federal employees hired after 1984 (although there may be some exceptions),
• Railroad employees who have ten years or more of service,
• State and local government employees who decide not to participate in the Social Security System, and
• Children under 21 years of age who perform household tasks for their parents. However, young adults 18 or over who are employed by the family business may qualify for some SSDI benefits.

The SSDI system is extremely complicated. If you or a loved one is struggling with eligibility requirements or have been denied benefits in Georgia, you should consider contacting knowledgeable SSDI lawyers for help.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 37 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!

If you have applied for social security benefits and have been denied, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today. Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 37 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour live chat.


Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law

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Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
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Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.