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Disability benefits and earnings tests

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Social Security Disability

If you struggle with a disability and cannot work, it is crucial to explore potential resources that could help you in the months and years to come. If eligible, Social Security Disability benefits could serve as a lifeline, helping you cover living expenses and other costs. However, it is essential to understand various factors that can impact your eligibility for disability benefits, such as earnings tests.

When determining an applicant’s eligibility for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration uses two earning tests.

Disability benefits and the recent work test

According to the SSA, a majority of disabled people who want to secure disability benefits must satisfy two tests, the recent work test and duration of work test. The recent work test takes your age into consideration as well as the time you became disabled. If you become disabled before you turn 24, you likely need to have worked for at least 1.5 years in the last 3 years.

If you become disabled between 24 and prior to the quarter in which you turn 31, you probably need to have worked for half of the time from the quarter of your 21st birthday until you became disabled. After 31, you likely need to have worked for 5 years out of the last 10 years before your disability.

The duration of work test and eligibility for disability benefits

Under the duration of work test, you typically need to have worked for 1.5 years if you became disabled before 28, 2 years at age 30, 5 years at age 42, 7 years at age 50, 8.5 years at age 56 and 9.5 years at age 60.

If you satisfy these earnings tests, you should carefully review other requirements and the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits.