Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Are You Insured?

To figure out if you are insured by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Social Security does 2 tests that look at your work history. If you pass both of these tests, you are considered insured and may qualify for SSDI benefits if SSA also decides that you are disabled. If you do not pass either one of these tests, it does not matter if you are disabled, because you are not covered by this insurance program.

On this page we’ll explain the 2 tests Social Security uses to decide whether you have worked enough to be covered by SSDI. On the next page, we’ll explain how Social Security decides whether your disability qualifies you to get SSDI benefits. If Social Security decides that you are both insured and disabled, you may qualify for SSDI.

Work History Test 1: Have You Worked Recently?

This is also called the Recent Work Test. You need to have worked enough recently and paid Social Security taxes to pass this test.

Here’s how it works:

Age you became disabled

Years you generally must have worked recently:

Test 1: Have You Worked Recently?

Before Age 24

1.5 years during the last 3 years.

Age 24-30

Half of the time since you turned 21. Example: At age 27, you must have worked 3 years out of the 6 years since you turned 21.

Age 31 or older

5 years during the last 10 years

If you don’t pass the Recent Work Test, you are not insured and do not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Work credits

Social Security doesn’t actually count the number of years you work. Instead they count the number of “work credits” you have. They give you up to 4 work credits per year. So, if you are 31 or older, you need to have earned 20 work credits (worked 5 years) in the last 10 years. We have simplified it here to just show how many years you generally must have worked.

Work History Test 2: How Long Have You Worked?

This test is also called the Duration of Work Test. To pass this test, you need to have worked a certain number of years during your entire lifetime (between 1.5 and 9.5 years, depending on your age).

Here’s how it works:

Age you became disabled

Total years you generally must have worked in your lifetime:

Test 2: How Long Have You Worked?

Before Age 43

Same as recent work test (1.5-5 years of work, depending on your age)

Age 44

5.5 years of work

Age 46

6 years of work

Age 48

6.5 years of work

Age 50

7 years of work

Age 52

7.5 years of work

Age 54

8 years of work

Age 56

8.5 years of work

Age 58

9 years of work

Age 60

9.5 years of work

Note: If you have worked in another country, Social Security may count the years that you worked in another country when evaluating your eligibility for SSDI. Click here to read more about these “totalization” benefits.

If you don’t pass the Duration of Work Test, you are not insured and do not qualify for SSDI.

Check if you are insured on the Social Security website

You can have secure and convenient access to your Social Security earnings and benefit information on the Social Security website. The online statements can tell you if you will be eligible for SSDI if you become disabled and can give you an estimate of the benefits you would get. The online statement also provides a convenient way to determine whether your earnings are accurately posted to your Social Security records. Click here to check your Social Security statement online.

Learn more