Qualifying for Disability Benefits

When you work and pay Social Security taxes out of your paycheck, you earn “credits” from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA issues credits based on your earnings, and the amount of credits you earn over time determines if you can receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The number of credits you need to qualify for Minnesota disability benefits varies based on your age and when you became disabled.

At Fields Law Firm, our Social Security Disability lawyers are here to answer your questions about qualifying for disability benefits. The call is free. The advice is free. Call 1-888-343-5375 or fill out a free contact request form to Get Fields! on your side today.

Social Security Credits and Disability Benefits

The SSA assigns you credits based on how much you earn while working, with a maximum of four credits earned per year. The number of credits you need to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits varies based on your age and how long you’ve worked.

The amount of credits you must earn to qualify for benefits depends on your age:

  • Younger Than Age 24
    If you’re under age 24, to qualify for disability benefits you typically must have worked at least 1.5 years in the three years before you became disabled.
  • Between Ages 24 – 30
    To be approved for disability benefits, you generally need to have earned credits for at least half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.
  • Age 31 and Older
    You need to have earned at least 20 credits in the 10 years before you became disabled to get disability benefits. The exact number of credits you need to qualify for benefits increases until age 62.

Social Security Disability benefits exist to help injured workers pay for their living expenses when they become disabled. Contact Fields Law if you need help determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits. No matter where you are in the process, we can help. We have years of experience, and we can answer all of your questions and explain your rights.

Tips For Getting Your Disability Claim Approved

Getting your claim approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can take time, and in many cases, it can require more than one try. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies more than half of all initial applications for SSD benefits, but there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting your application approved.

Follow these tips to increase your chances of getting your application for disability benefits approved:

    1. See your doctor on a regular basis.

Getting regular medical treatment helps your physician fill out paperwork that the SSA uses to determine your disability status. A list of your past appointments can also serve as evidence you’re suffering from a serious condition.

    1. Document your medical condition.

Keep a journal documenting the ways your condition affects you on a daily basis. Be sure to document the:

– Things you can no longer do because of your condition.
– Times and dates of events, such as seizures or blackouts, related to your condition.
– Side effects of medications you’re taking.

Keeping track of these factors can prove the severity of your medical condition to the SSA, and it can help your doctors and lawyers prepare your application for Social Security Disability benefits.

    1. Get a Social Security Disability lawyer.

At Fields Law, we know how to build successful disability claims. Whether you’ve already been denied and need help with an appeal or you’re applying for benefits for the first time, our Social Security Lawyers are here to help you get the benefits you need.

You don’t have to apply for disability benefits without help. At Fields Law Firm, it’s our job to help Minnesotans like you get the compensation they need to get medical treatment and support their families. We’re here to answer your questions about your SSD application – call 1-888-343-5375 or complete our free initial consultation form. There’s no obligation – we’re here to help.

Disability Qualifications

Social Security has special rules to determine if a person is “disabled” under the federal program. Assuming a person is eligible for disability benefits, they still must be “disabled” under Social Security’s rules. These are very strict rules that must be met in order to qualify for disability benefits. However, these rules change for blind people. If you are blind, not all of these rules will apply.

How Social Security decides of a person qualifies for SSDI:

Social Security uses a 5-step process in determining if a person is disabled under their rules.

    1. Are you working?

If you are currently working and earning $1,220 or more per month, then you do not qualify for disability benefits. If you are not working, or not earning $1,220 per month or more, then Social Security will look at your medical conditions.

    1. Is your medical condition severe enough?

Your medical condition must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to do basic activities such as walking, sitting, and concentrating. If you can use your hands and arms to complete basic tasks, and can remember simple instructions, you will not be considered disabled under Social Security’s rules.

    1. Is your medical condition listed on Social Security’s Listing of Impairments?

Social Security has a “List of Impairments” that lists certain medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically qualify a person for SSDI. If your medical conditions are on the list, then you will qualify for disability benefits but may still be denied benefits. If your medical conditions are not on this list, then Social Security will look to see if they are as severe as conditions that are on the list.

    1. Can you perform any of the work you did in the past?

Social Security considers if you are able to do work that you have done in the past. If so, you will not be granted disability benefits. Social Security looks at each job you have had over your lifetime and determines if you can do one of these jobs given your medical conditions.

    1. Can you perform any other type of work?

If you cannot do the work you did in the past, Social Security will look to see if there are other jobs that you would be able to do considering your medical condition, age, education, and past work experience. If you are capable of working one of these jobs, then Social Security will determine that you are not qualified to receive disability benefits.

Disability Work Credits

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have earned enough “credits.” While working, people pay Social Security taxes. These taxes amount to “credits” that qualifies people to receive benefits if they become disabled.

Social Security work credits are based on total yearly wages. They are also based on reported self-employment income. People can earn as much as four credits per year while working.

There is no single number of credits for everyone to qualify for disability benefits. This is because the number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits depends on the age in which a person becomes disabled.

In general terms, people need to have 40 credits, and to have earned 20 of those credits in the immediate 10 years before they became disabled. However, some young workers may qualify for disability benefits with fewer credits.

Recent Work
The work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits must have been earned in the recent years before a person became disabled. This is called the “recent work test.” People who become disabled at age 31 or older need to have worked 5 out of the 10 years before they became disabled. People who become disabled between ages 25 and 30 need to have worked half the time between age 21 and your age at the time of their disability. And, if a person becomes disabled when they are 24-years-old or before, then they need 1 ½ years of work in the three years before they became disabled.

Social Security Statement
Your Social Security Statement shows whether you have earned enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits. This only shows if you met the work requirement at the time the statement was prepared, though, so if you stop working, you may not continue to meet the work credit requirement in the future. You should receive a copy of your Social Security Statements (online only) once per year after you sign up for an account.



John Kelley
John Kelley
21:38 16 Oct 18
I was having issues with an insurance company and I hired fields law firm. The people there are amazing and always quick to answer questions even a couple times on the weekend. I worked with Blake amazing person and very informative on my case. I would highly recommend this firm to any of my friends.read more
Michael Frazier
Michael Frazier
23:58 10 Oct 18
I had the pleasure to work with Michael and Annie on my LTD case. When my claim was denied by the insurance carrier, Michael didn't hesitate to take them on with an appeal. He worked diligently on the appeal and ultimately won this for me. Mind you, this wasn't a huge case but he treated me like it was and as if I was the only case he was representing. He kept me abreast of vital information, it was clear that he knew his stuff and wasn't afraid to take on the big insurance company. Michael was much more than I ever expected given that our relationship was entirely remote, handled by telephone and email only. Not only is he a strong lawyer, he treated me with compassion and respect. I am beyond pleased with him and the Fields Law team. Michael cares about his clients and he gets the job done for them because he knows how impactful an injury can be to both a person's well-being and their financial security. I highly recommend Michael and Fields Law whether you are local to their Minnesota offices or out of state like myself.read more
Melanie Eason
Melanie Eason
20:12 29 Aug 18
Fields Law Firm is great. Patrick Kramer, my lawyer, is fantastic. He and his legal assistant Samantha K. have handled my case for several years. They have kept me informed every step of the way. They are both easy to contact. I have both of their phone numbers and email addresses and they respond promptly to any messages I leave. Without their help I would not have been able to get the disability company to fulfill their promises. It is a relief to leave all the dealings with the disability insurance company in their hands.read more
Jeannie Kerr
Jeannie Kerr
23:37 15 Sep 18
My experience with Merrick Williams of Fields Law Firm has been truly above and beyond satisfactory. His knowledge and professionalism have guided me through a very difficult time. He and his assistant Angela were readily available to answer any questions and address my concerns. I highly recommend him as an attorney and will use his services again if necessary in the future.read more
ebon jordan
ebon jordan
19:51 27 Sep 18
Field Law Firm was great my lawyer Zach Schmoll was more than I could ask for. He always kept me in the loop and explain everything perfectly, got back to me whenever I called less than 24 hrs and was a extremely nice guy. This guy is young and knows what he is doing so please don’t let the age fool you. I had a wonderful experience with Field Law and will refer anyone with legal matters to them.read more
Edward Johnson
Edward Johnson
23:11 31 Oct 18
I highly recommend Fields law Firm if you need some no nonsense attorneys to represent you. I was treated courteously and efficiently each and every time by Mike and his associates. They settled my Long Term Disability case in a timely fashion. and was pleased with the results. Thanks again Mike and Fields Law Firm. You are the best!read more
19:19 09 Nov 18
Fields Law Firm is simply the very best when it comes to representing you & fighting for your rights! They are a "10 Star" Law Firm hands down! Michael Kemmmitt & Sarah Christensen were simply outstanding to work with. They took over my long term disability case after I was being denied my benefits & gave me the moral support & law experience that I needed to win my case. They were supportive throughout my case & they will fight tooth & nail to assure your rights are not being denied. It is so rare to find a law firm that treats you like YOU are the most important person to them. I HIGHLY recommend Fields Law Firm. They are truly advocates for justice.read more
Ben Chadwick
Ben Chadwick
23:20 12 Nov 18
Michael and Samantha were always giving me updates in a very timely manner. They were very good at getting back with me if I had questions, and they didn't have the answer at the time of our discussion. They were very thorough in their handling of my case, and we received a positvie ruling due to their efficiency and expertise. Thank you very much Michael and Samantha, I appreciate all that you did to help me with my case. I would definitely refer people to you, as well as use you in the future. Benjamin Chadwick.read more
Michael Rosa
Michael Rosa
00:01 01 Dec 18
Evan was absolutely fantastic. He was knowledgable, informative and patient. Evan Sanford and Fields law took my case when other lawyers pretty much told me to pound sand. The outcome was a substantial amount of money that will take the pressure off of me for years to come. I would absolutely recommend Fields law.read more
17:49 02 Dec 18
It is very difficult for the average disabled person to battle the disability insurance and Social Security disability industries. I was very sick, exhausted, and stressed out about being denied and told that I can work by someone who doesn't even know me! The paperwork was daunting and had to be filled out multiple times. I chose Field's Law Firm after finding them online. They took over my claims and handled all of the paperwork and appeals that were necessary. They even went to a hearing with me to the Social Security Judge. Field's also kept me in the loop every step of the way. This allowed me to focus more on myself and greatly reduced my financial anxiety. They don't get paid unless you get paid. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain! I am truly appreciative of Field's Law Firm!read more
Raphael Roe
Raphael Roe
00:35 04 Dec 18
I had the pleasure of working with Patrick Kramer for my LTD appeal. He walked me through the entire process and answered all my questions. Patrick called me anytime there was new information and went above and beyond what I expected. It was one of the most stress free processes I’ve had to deal with thanks to the team at Field’s! Thank you for all your hard work! -Michael Roe, Monroe, MIread more
Donna Williams
Donna Williams
19:07 06 Dec 18
My attorney, Blake Bauer and paralegal, Samantha Kurschner are wonderful. Whenever I need to speak with one of them, they are always available. If I have to leave a message, my call is promptly returned. They worked diligently on my case and won my LTD claim. I highly recommend Fields Law Firm.read more
Lori Anderson
Lori Anderson
20:33 04 Dec 18
Jodie has been a wonderful person and on top of my social security disability claim. The attorneys are great and very thorough with what they do. Would recommend Fielsd Law Firm to everyone. Thank you for everything you have done for me.
Todd Burge
Todd Burge
15:40 11 Dec 18
I worked with Attorney Hans Lodge on a large debt collection from a creditor. He was able to determine that there was a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and swiftly moved into legal action. This whole matter was completely and quickly resolved within a couple of months. This whole situation could not have turned out any better on my end. I highly recommend working with Hans or any of the attorneys at Fields Law Firm!read more
John Notaro
John Notaro
05:09 09 Jan 19
Fields law represented me with class and always had the answers I needed to know every step of the way. Patrick and Jodie always kept me informed when there were updates to my case with a phone call. I can't recommend Fields law enough. I know I couldn't have won my case without the hard work of their entire team. Thank you all and most importantly how you changed my life for the better.read more
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