Can I Get Social Security If I Only Worked 10 Years?


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When determining a retiree’s eligibility for benefits, the Social Security Administration calculates the benefit for full retirement age by determining the retiree’s highest income of age 35 and plugging it into a formula that adjusts for inflation.

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But what about employees with significantly fewer pay years? For example, can you get social security if you only worked for 10 years?

The answer is yes, according to the SSA. However, just as earning and paying little in Social Security during your working life will work against your benefits, having the minimum number of eligible years will affect your benefit amount when you retire.

To qualify for Social Security benefits, you must earn credits. Specifically, you need 40 credits earned by paying Social Security taxes on what you earn. You can earn up to four credits per year. If you have less than 35 years of pay, the SSA counts the years that you have not worked as zero in the calculations.

Employees who have not accumulated the required 40 credits (approximately 10 years of employment) are not eligible for Social Security. Those who have not paid Social Security taxes, including certain government employees, are also not eligible for Social Security.

So most people earn their credits in 10 years of work, but there is no time limit on how long it takes to earn 40 credits. According to the SSA, one credit equals $1,510 in revenue in 2022, so you can earn the maximum four credits this year after earning $6,040. That means that even those who work part-time should be able to collect their Social Security credits without too much effort.

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The longer you wait to collect benefits and the more you earned during your 35 years of eligible employment, the more you will receive upon retirement. In 2022, an employee claiming Social Security at full retirement age — 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born — could potentially receive the highest monthly amount of $3,345, roughly double the average retirement benefit of $1,670. 95 from July.

According to AARP, those who retire until age 70 to earn the total maximum allowable Social Security benefit of $4,194 per month must have earned the equivalent of at least $147,000 per year in current dollars during 35 years of employment. The average person’s social security check is only about 40% of the maximum.

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To see an estimate of your benefits, set up a personal My Social Security account on the SSA website. You can also access the SSA’s benefits calculators directly. The AARP Social Security Calculator is another great tool that gives you a quick benefit estimate.

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About the author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy sector for 18 years, in 2016 he decided to change careers and focus full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communications degree and has previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide range of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience in retail copywriting.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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