At What Age Can I Start Receiving Disability Benefits?

By Disability Group

There is no minimum age to begin receiving Social Security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  In order to receive disability benefits, you have to have worked long enough and recently enough to earn the required number of work credits.

How many work credits can I earn in a year?

You can earn up to four (4) work credits every year.  In order to receive a work credit, you need to earn a certain amount of money every year.  In 2011, you need to earn at least $12,000 every year to earn four (4) work credits for that year.

How many work credits do I need in order to receive disability benefits?

The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. 

The rules for how many work credits you need to qualify are as follows:

  • Before age 24—You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period before your disability began.
  • Ages 24 to 31—You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.  For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).
  • Age 31 or older—In general, you need to have the number of work credits shown in the table below.  Unless you are blind, you need at least 20 work credits in the 10 years before you became disabled.


Born after 1929 & Became Disabled at Age: Number of Credits Needed
31 through 42 20
44 22
46 24
48 26
50 28
52 30
54 32
56 34
58 36
60 38
62 or older 40


For more information about disability benefits, please visit

If you have any further questions, please contact your local SSA office or an experienced Social Security attorney.