Are You Insured?

When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Social Security does two tests that look at your work history. If you pass both tests, you are insured by the program. If you do not pass either one of these tests, you are not insured and do not qualify for SSDI, even if you have a disability.

If you are insured and Social Security also says you have a disability, you may qualify for SSDI benefits.The amount you get each month depends on your work history.

Note About CDB for Adults Whose Disabilities Began Before Age 22:

If you are an adult and you have a disability that began before you turned 22, you may be able to get a Social Security benefit called Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), even if you haven't worked.

To qualify for CDB, one of your parents must:

For CDB, you must be 18 years old or older and you must have a disability. Social Security does the same disability determination for CDB that it does for SSDI. As with SSDI, Medicare health coverage begins two years after you start getting CDB benefits.

Learn more about CDB.

The Social Security website can help you see if you are insured

You can check your Social Security earnings and benefits information online. Your online statements say if you will qualify for SSDI if you become disabled and how much you might get in benefits. You can also make sure your earnings have been correctly recorded in your Social Security records.

Work History Test 1: Have You Worked Recently?

This is also called the Recent Work Test. You need to have worked enough during the last several years and paid Social Security taxes to pass this test. Here’s how it works:

Test 1: Have You Worked Recently?

Age your disability began

You generally must have worked:

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 History Test 2: How Long Have You Worked?

This is also called the Duration of Work Test. You need to have worked and paid Social Security taxes a certain number of years during your entire lifetime to pass this test. Here’s how it works:

Test 2: How Long Have You Worked?

Age your
disability began

In your lifetime,
you generally must have worked at least:

Before Age 43

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

Age 44

5.5 years

Age 46

6 years

Age 48

6.5 years

Age 50

7 years

Age 52

7.5 years

Age 54

8 years

Age 56

8.5 years

Age 58

9 years

Age 60

9.5 years

Note: If you have worked in another country, Social Security may count those years of work. Read more about “totalization” benefits.

Note: If you have served in the military, how your work is counted depends on when you served. Learn more about military service and Social Security.

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

If you pass both work tests and have a disability, you may 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 four work credits per year based on the Social Security taxes you’ve paid. (Social Security taxes are usually automatically deducted from paychecks, unless you are self-employed.) So, if you are 31 or older, you need to have earned 20 work credits (worked five years) in the last 10 years. The tables here are simplified to just show how many years you generally must have worked.