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The possibility of getting hurt on the job is a reality for millions of workers each day. Workers’ compensation can help a person cover their medical bills and other expenses, but sometimes workers’ comp isn’t enough. What is an injured employee supposed to do when they suffer a significantly disabling injury?

Social Security disability (SSD) is there around for exactly that situation. Qualifying for SSD is a complex and lengthy process but is worth the effort for those it helps. Two of the biggest factors determining whether you are eligible are what your condition is and how much you have worked.

How jobs and work effect SSD eligibility

To qualify for SSD benefits you will need to have worked a job covered by Social Security. The vast majority of American workers are covered by Social Security. Payroll or self-employment taxes automatically make these deductions, so don’t worry if you don’t recall sending the Social Security Administration a check.

Most employees not covered by social security include state, county and city workers, federal employees who began working before 1984, railroad workers and foreign nationals working in the US.

Most people will need to have worked long enough in a social security covered position to have earned 40 “Social Security Credits”. As the Social Security Administration explains, these credits are the building blocks used to determine if you have paid in enough to be covered by SSD. You will receive credits based on your wages and can earn up to four credits per year.

How do I get Social Security Credits?

The amount needed to earn one credit changes each year, but for reference, in 2019 a worker will earn one credit each time they make $1360 in wages or self-employment income. This means that once they have made $5440, they have earned their maximum of four credits for the year.

Individuals who have not yet earned 40 credits are not out of luck. Younger workers can qualify with fewer credits, for example. One of the best first steps you can take when considering applying for SSD is to speak with an experienced attorney. They know the regulations and will know how to most effectively present your application.

Suffering a major injury puts you and your families lives on halt. Don’t shoulder the financial burden alone if you and your doctor expect your recovery to take more than a year. Disability benefits are available, you just need to seize them.