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How Do You Qualify For Social Security

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Workers With Too Few Social Security Credits

How To Apply For Social Security Benefits: What You Need To Know

Can you get Social Security if you never worked? No, because a minimum requirement to collect Social Security retirement benefits is performing enough work. The Social Security Administration defines enough work as earning 40 Social Security credits. More specifically, in 2021, an individual receives one credit for each $1,470 in income, and they can earn a maximum of four credits per year. So, 40 credits are roughly equal to 10 years of work.

If you earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, then youll need 202.75 hours of work to receive one . By working just 17 hours a week for 50 weeks at this wage , you can earn the maximum credits per year. That means even those who work part-time so they can attend school or care for a childor those who work part-time because they cannot find full-time workcan amass Social Security credits without too much trouble.

Earned credits are accrued over a person’s lifetime and never expire, so anyone who has left the workforce with close to 40 credits might consider going back and doing the minimum additional work they need to qualify. You can check the number of credits you have so far by opening a Social Security account on the Social Security website and downloading your Social Security statement.

If You Are An Immigrant Who Is Sponsored

If you are a sponsored immigrant and have lived in Canada for less than 10 years after age 18, you can apply and have your benefit approved however, you will not receive a payment for the Allowance while you are sponsored unless your sponsor:

  • suffers personal bankruptcy
  • is sentenced to a term of incarceration for more than 6 months
  • is convicted of an offence against you under the Criminal Code
  • dies

If you have lived in Canada for fewer than 10 years since you turned 18, but you have lived or worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Canada, you may be eligible for a partial benefit.

If you become entitled to the Allowance it will gradually increase with every year that you continue to reside in Canada until you have reached 10 years of residence.

What Is Full Retirement Age

The size of your monthly Social Security benefit depends on a few factors, including how much you earned over the years, the year you were born, and the age when you start claimingdown to the month.

Youll receive your full monthly benefit if you start claiming when you reach what Social Security considers your full retirement age , sometimes also referred to as normal retirement age. FRA was 65 when Social Security began, but it has been raised to 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. To find your FRA, see the chart below.

Finding Your Full Retirement Age

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You Fail To Follow Prescribed Therapy

If you are being treated by a doctor, but fail to follow the doctor’s prescribed therapy when you have the ability to do so, you can be denied disability benefits. However, the SSA recognizes certain legitimate excuses for failing to follow the doctor’s orders .

Acceptable medical excuses. Failure to follow prescribed therapy can be excused for reasons beyond your control. Some examples follow.

  • You have a mental illness so severe that you cannot comply with prescribed therapy.
  • You have a fear of surgery so intense that surgery would not be appropriate. Your treating doctor must confirm the severity of your fear to the DDS consulting doctor.
  • You physically cannot follow prescribed therapy without assistancefor example, because of paralysis of the arms or cataracts caused by diabetes.

Acceptable nonmedical excuses. It is possible that you cannot follow a prescribed therapy for a reason that has nothing to do with your medical condition. Acceptable nonmedical excuses for failing to follow prescribed therapy follow.

  • You don’t have the money to pay for treatment.
  • Your religious beliefs prohibit you from receiving medical therapy.
  • Your doctor prescribes treatment that another doctor disagrees with.

For more information, see Nolo’s article on the impact of failing to follow prescribed treatment.

You Or Your Family Members May Be Eligible For Increased Benefits

How Do You Qualify Medically for Social Security Disability or SSI ...

Our mission is to deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public.

It’s not unusual for a benefit recipient’s circumstances to change after they apply or became eligible for benefits. If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income , certain life changes may affect eligibility for an increase in your federal benefits. For example, if your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you may become eligible for a higher Social Security benefit.

To find out if you, or a family member, might be eligible for a benefit based on another persons work, or a higher benefit based on your own work, see the information about benefits on the Social Security website. You can also use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool to find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible and tell you more information about how to qualify and apply.

The questions and answers below are about a few of the life changes that could possibly increase your benefits.

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How To Get A Social Security Card

  • Gather your documents. Learn what documents you’ll need to get a card. Select your situation:
  • Adult or child
  • Original, replacement, or corrected card
  • U.S. born citizen, foreign born U.S. citizen, or noncitizen
  • Apply online for a replacement card. Apply online if youre not changing anything on your card and you are eligible. This option is available in most states. You will need to make a my Social Security account first. Or complete an application. If you can not apply online, fill out an application and return it to the SSA. Find out where to take it in person or mail it.
  • Try This Life Expectancy Calculator For Social Security

    Retirement benefit calculations are based on extensive actuarial studies and data. As a service to the public, the Social Security Administration has developed a simple Life Expectancy Calculator that allows you to plug in your gender and date of birth to get a rough estimate of how long you may live.

    Knowing this information may help you in deciding when the right time is to apply for retirement benefits.

    To use the Calculator, go to

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    Social Security Entitlement Requirements

    Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income may also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI benefits is also an application for Social Security benefits. We often need to obtain additional information from the person before we can award Social Security benefits.

    The following sections provide information on who may be entitled to Social Security benefits.


      Age 62 or older, or disabled or blind and

      “Insured” by having enough work credits.

    For applications filed December 1, 1996, or later, you must either be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien in order to receive monthly Social Security benefits.


    We measure work in “work credits”. You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.

    To be eligible for most types of benefits , you must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between age 21 and the year in which you reach age 62 or become disabled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits. A minimum of six work credits is required, regardless of age.

    The rules are as follows:

    Born After 1929


    If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may qualify if he or she is:


    How To Receive Federal Benefits

    How to Apply for Social Security Benefits

    To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.

    If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:

    • Call the Go Direct Helpline at .

    If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:

    Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:

    Learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.

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    The Importance Of Full Retirement Age

    Retirement is the most common way to qualify for SSI. Unfortunately, the retirement age is not clear to the public because people in varying professions retire at different ages.

    If you start collecting at 62, which is the earliest, you may not qualify for all of your benefits. Depending on what year you were born in, you may only get 70-80% of what you are owed. If you wait until the full retirement age, you may get more benefits each month. If you want to be receiving small benefits for a long time, you should apply for retirement when you turn 62. If you are financially able to wait until after the full retirement, you will receive an increase of eight percent for every delayed year.

    It is important to note that not everyone has an age requirement for SSI benefits. Widows and widowers, for example, can start receiving the benefits at a younger age.

    The SSI retirement system is based on credits. The amount of credits you get, depends on the amount of money you make annually. You cannot get more than four credits in a year. People that were born in 1929 or later must have 40 credits which translates to ten years of work before they begin to qualify for social security benefits.

    Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries

    You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.

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    Certain Government And Railroad Employees

    There are some jobs that dont pay into Social Security. Federal government employees hired before 1984 are included in the Civil Service Retirement System , which provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. These workers did not have Social Security taxes deducted from their paychecks and thus are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits.

    They may still qualify if they have earned benefits through another job or a spouse. However, in these cases, CSRS pension payments may reduce Social Security payouts. Government workers who are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System , which replaced CSRS, are eligible for Social Security benefits.

    Most state and local employees have Social Security protection under a federal Section 218 agreement. However, some of these workersincluding those who work for a public school system, college, or universitywill not receive Social Security benefits if they do not pay Social Security taxes. They generally receive pension benefits from their employers.

    Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Disability Claim Tips

    You may be able to get spouses retirement benefits even if you have never worked under Social Security. Your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits and you must be at least 62 years of age, and you can also qualify for Medicare if you are at least 65 years of age. You can receive spousal benefits no matter how old you are if you are caring for your spouses child who is also receiving benefits. To receive benefits, a child must be unmarried and either be under age 18 or be age 18-19 and a full-time student they can also receive benefits if they are 18 or over and disabled with a disability that started before the age of 22.

    You can also receive spousal benefits even if you are divorced, if the marriage lasted ten years or longer. You must be unmarried, at least 62, your spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and the amount of the benefit you receive based on your own work must be less than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouses work. To apply for Social Security spousal benefits, you can use the online application you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or for the deaf and hard of hearing, 1-800-325-0778 or you can make an appointment and visit your local Social Security office. If you do not live in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, you can contact the nearest Social Security office, U.S. Embassy, or consulate

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    Do You Have Enough Work Credits

    Your disability alone is not enough to qualify you for SSDI benefits. You must have earned enough work credits during the course of your employment to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

    The work credits needed may vary from individual to individual, but they are basically as outlined below:

    • If you are younger than 24 years of age, you may qualify for SSDI payments if you have earned 6 work credits in the 3-year period that ended when your disability began.
    • If you are between the ages of 24 and 31, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between the age of 21 and the time you became disabled. For example, if you became disabled at age 25, you would need credit for 2 years of work between the ages of 21 and 25.
    • If you are older than 31 years of age, you must have the number of work credits outlined in the chart shown below. As a general rule, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits during the 10 years immediately prior to your disability onset.
    If you were born after 1929 and became disabled at age:Work Credits Needed:

    Social Security Phone Number

    You can contact Social Security by phone by calling their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, their TTY phone number is 1-800-325-0778. You can use their automated telephone services to obtain recorded information and to conduct some business 24 hours a day. You can speak with a Social Security representative if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. You can also reach their TTY number if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. For instructions on their Automated services click here.

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    Social Security Benefits For Children

    More than four million children receive Social Security benefits each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, deceased or retired.

    These funds help stabilize families and children at a critical time in their lives, helping them to complete high school and give them a good start toward college or being able to work full time with a high school diploma.

    Biological, adopted and dependent step-children are eligible to get benefits if they meet certain criteria:

    • At least one parent who is disabled or retired and eligible for Social Security benefits.
    • A parent who passed away after attaining enough work credits in a job where he or she paid Social Security taxes.
    • The child must be unmarried and under age 18, or
    • 18-19 years old and a full-time student who is in no higher than grade 12. College students are excluded.
    • 18 years or older and disabled.

    When a child meets these criteria and a parent begins receiving Social Security retirement benefits, the child may be eligible for up to half of the parents full benefit amount or 75 percent if the parent is deceased. However, there is a maximum amount per family that ranges from 150 to 180 percent of the parents full benefit amount. When payments exceed this threshold, each family members benefit is reduced proportionally until the total is equal to the maximum amount allowed for the family.

    Age : Wait And Accumulate Delayed Retirement Credits

    How to Apply for Social Security Disability

    At 70, you will get the maximum amount of benefits that you can get from Social Security. It does not make sense to delay your Social Security retirement age past 70 because your benefit amount will not increase. Waiting until 70 to begin your Social Security if you are married and are the higher earner results in a higher survivor benefit for your spouse.

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    Qualifying For Supplemental Security Income

    SSI is a monthly payment plan for people who have retired. These people have contributed to their working record, and receive payments based on their annual income. SSI is essential for people who need supplements to their income to sustain their way of life. Many people who are retired, get less money than they used to. The SSA uses Social Security to help older people make it through life.

    Certain Immigrants Over Age 65

    Retired people who immigrate to the United States will not have the 40 U.S. work credits that they need to qualify for Social Security benefits. One way to rectify this problem is to earn six work credits in the United States and receive prorated U.S. benefits combined with prorated benefits from their former country under a totalization agreement. This solution makes sense for workers who also do not have enough benefits in their home country to qualify for that countrys equivalent of Social Security payments.

    Older immigrants who do not qualify for U.S. Social Security and whose countries laws allow them to receive benefit payments while residing abroad can claim their Social Security or pensioners benefits while living in the U.S.

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