Social Security Credits: What Are They And How Do I Earn Them?

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Social Security credits are necessary for every worker to obtain in order to qualify for Social Security benefits. Every worker needs a certain number of credits in order to qualify, and the number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit you are applying for.

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The Social Security Administration uses your total yearly earnings to figure out your Social Security credits. The amount needed for one credit in 2022 is $1,510. The maximum amount of credits you can earn in one year is four. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically every year when average wages also increase.

In general, you need a certain amount of credits to even apply for Social Security benefits. The exact number depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefits you apply for, but no one will need more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit overall. The amount of credits you earn in one year does not change if you change jobs; it is based on overall earnings and not your employer.

There are certain special rules regarding some workers and how they can earn credits. For example, anyone born in 1928 or later needs 10 years of work to be eligible for retirement benefits.

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For disability benefits, if you develop a qualifying disability before the age of 24, you generally only need 1.5 years of work, or six work credits earned in the three-year period ending when your disability starts.

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Survivors benefits, those paid to one’s widow, widower or surviving young children, typically require at least 10 years of work in order to qualify for proper accumulation.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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