When it comes to applying and qualifying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), there are many factors that are taken into consideration. Your time in the workplace is one of them.

The first thing you must do is check whether or not you qualify under the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability listing. Some people who are permanently disabled are still able to perform other job functions, such as sedentary work. If you are, you may continue to work and cannot receive SSDI.

The Role Length of Time in the Workforce Plays in Your Massachusetts SSDI Application

The SSA uses a credit system to determine whether or not you qualify for SSDI. The longer you spend in the workforce, the more credits you earn. Credits are earned from annual income. That income can come from either annual wages or self-employment.

Here are a few more important facts about how the credit system works:

  • Each year, you can earn as many as four credits. One credit is the equivalent of $1,200 of income. Under the current system, once you’ve earned over $4,800 in one year, you’ve earned the maximum number of credits available for that year.
  • Usually you need at least 40 credits to apply. Twenty of these credits must have been earned over the past 10 years to qualify.
  • Younger people may qualify with fewer credits. The SSA knows that disabilities sometimes happen before enough credits have been earned. That’s why some younger people may not need as many credits. For example, if you’re under 24 years old, you only need six credits earned over a three-year period. People aged 24 to 31 only need twelve credits over the past six years.


The credit system gets very confusing. If you’re still not sure whether or not you qualify based on your years in the workforce, we encourage you to reach out to our Boston Social Security disability lawyers for more guidance on your specific case.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
Connect with me
Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer