As you work and pay taxes, you earn credits that qualify you to receive Social Security benefits. Your wages are posted to your Social Security record and you receive Social Security credits based on those wages. The credits you earn remain on your Social Security record if you change jobs or do not work for a while.
How it works
Each credit gives you one quarter (three months) of coverage. Quarters of coverage are determined by your wages. The amount needed for a quarter of coverage changes each year. You can earn up to four credits each year. Most people (those born after 1929) need 40 credits (10 years of work) to qualify for benefits. The amount of credits you need to be eligible to receive Social Security benefits depends on your age and the type of benefit.
Certain professions earn credits at different rates than regular employees. Some of these include the following:
If you are self-employed or work in the military
If you are self-employed or work in the military, you earn credits the same way as regular employees. Military workers may be able to earn extra credits. If you work for a nonprofit organization, you may be able to get benefits with fewer credits.
For more information
For complete details on credit requirements, contact the Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration has calculators that can help you estimate your future benefits on their website.
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