What is the earliest age I can receive Social Security disability benefits?

There is no minimum age as long as you meet the very strict Social Security definition of disability. But to qualify for disability benefits you must have worked long and recently enough under Social Security to earn the required number of work credits. You can earn up to a maximum of four work credits each year. The amount of earnings required for a credit increases each year as general wage levels rise. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. The rules for how much work you need to qualify for disability benefits are as follows:

  • Before age 24–You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Age 24 to 31–You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become 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 chart here. Unless you are blind, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.