According to the Congress FAQ, anyone born in 1929 or later needs to have worked for 10 years to be eligible for benefits through Social Security. In order to qualify, a person must have earned 40 credits. A worker earns one credit for every $1,120 in earnings, or up to a maximum of four credits per year. The Social Security Administration keeps track of credits and sends a yearly statement with an individual’s benefit qualifications and earnings. Additionally, the Social Security Trust Fund receives payroll taxes and splits them into two separate trust funds, one for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and one for Disability Insurance funds.
Social Security Disability Insurance is available to all individuals who are unable to work due to total disability, due to injuries or medical reasons. The Administration determines if a disability applicant meets the requirements and definition of disabled. The eligibility process looks if a claimant is unable to work as he or she did before and unable to adjust to other lines of work due to a medical condition. The program is not for short-term disability but for those who may not be able to work anytime in the future.
The Administration also looks at the age of an applicant when he or she becomes disabled. If an individual becomes disabled before age 24, the Administration generally looks for six credits earned. There is a shifting scale for older workers who have become disabled.
A percentage of payroll taxes is deposited in the Disability Insurance trust fund, about one dollar of every seven brought in is stored away for disability insurance.