How do I qualify for benefits? What do I need in order to be eligible to receive Social Security?

Published: July 7, 2020


To qualify for Social Security benefits, you must first be a U.S. citizen or lawfully living in the United States.

Then, you must have earned a total of 40 or more “credits.” These credits are legally known as Quarters of Coverage. A credit is the basic unit to determine whether one is insured under the Social Security program.

The amount of earnings required for one credit in 2020 is $1,410. This amount gets automatically adjusted each year. The credit is earned if it was from a job that paid Social Security payroll taxes.

No matter how much money you make in a year, you cannot earn more than 4 credits in one year. This essentially means that you must work for a minimum of 10 years to earn 40 credits and to be eligible for Social Security.

Last, you need to be a certain age to collect Social Security benefits. The age at which you are eligible to receive your full retirement benefit is dependent on the year you were born.

You can check the status of your eligibility by visiting your mySocialSecurity account.


Do you have a question about Social Security? Ask Martha your own question here.

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