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Recent Work Test

Chicago Lawyers for Social Security Claims

There are two federal programs that provide disability payments to those who meet the definitions of disability put forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is not a means-tested benefit, and it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve earned or saved once you become disabled. Rather, SSDI is an insurance program that kicks in if you are disabled such that you can no longer work, but have worked a certain amount before becoming disabled. To be eligible, you must pass a recent work test, along with a duration of work test. Your disability must also meet strict requirements in order for you to obtain SSDI. If you have concerns about the recent work test in connection with your SSDI claim, our seasoned Chicago Social Security attorneys are prepared to assist you.

What is the Recent Work Test?

In order to obtain SSDI benefits, you need to meet both the recent work test and the duration of work test. The recent work test involves how much work you must have performed recently, which has to meet a particular threshold in order for you to be eligible for benefits.

The SSA decides whether you’ve worked enough to qualify for SSDI by converting your earnings to work credits. You can get a maximum of 4 credits in a year. You need to have worked a certain number of years or earned a certain amount of credits to meet the duration of work test. A skilled Social Security lawyer can help you understand how the nuances of these rules may apply to your claim.

Work Credits

Generally, under the recent work test, those who are at least 31 years old must have worked at least 5 of the prior 10 years before becoming disabled to obtain SSDI coverage. This is equivalent to earning 20 credits with ¼ of a year’s work equaling a credit. Some blind applicants will be able to use an exception to the recent work test.

If you become disabled before you turn 24, you must have worked a minimum of 1 ½ years in the last three years just before becoming disabled, or you must have earned 6 credits in the past 3 years. If you become disabled between the ages of 24 and 31, you need to have worked at least half of the time since you turned 21. In other words, if you’re disabled at age 29, you need to have worked at least 4 years out of the last 8 years. If you become disabled when you are 27, you need to have worked a minimum of 2 years out of the last 6.

Receiving Benefits

Your income has to be reported to the SSA if you are working and you receive SSDI. Whether you perform work while on SSDI can affect your benefits, even if you do qualify under the recent work test. Those who receive SSDI benefits should contact the SSA before starting to work. While you can’t earn more than a certain amount, you may be able to get earnings and collect benefits during a trial work period and a longer period of eligibility.

Consult an Experienced SSDI Attorney in Chicago

When you aren’t able to work to support yourself or your family due to disability, it can be stressful to try to fight for the benefits available through the SSDI program. You probably paid into Social Security while you were working; your pay stubs should show FICA deductions, which reflect these payments. Your most recent work date and how long you worked will impact your eligibility for benefits. If you’re concerned about the recent work test related to your SSDI claim in Chicago, you can consult a lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck and Bertuca, we can represent those disabled in Quincy, Aurora, Champaign, and Rockford, as well as across Kane, Sangamon, Adams, Winnebago, and Cook Counties. We also evaluate our clients’ disabilities to determine whether other relief may be available in addition to SSDI. Contact us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525 or via our online form.