SOCIAL SECURITY ENTITLEMENT REQUIREMENTS


Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 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.


TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AS A WORKER YOU MUST BE:


    small blue ballAge 62 or older, or disabled or blind; and

    small blue ball"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.


HOW MUCH WORK DO YOU NEED TO BE"INSURED"?


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 (such as benefits based on blindness or retirement), 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.

To qualify for Social Security benefits based on a disability other than blindness, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you became disabled. You generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

The rules are as follows:

    small blue ballBefore age 24 –– You may qualify if you have six work credits earned in the three–year period ending when your disability starts.

    small blue ballAge 24 to 31 –– You may qualify if you have credit for having worked half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled.

    EXAMPLE:blank spacerIf at age 27 you become disabled, you would need 12 work credits in the past six years (between age 21 and age 27).

    small blue ballAge 31 and older –– In general, you will need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart below. You must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you become disabled.


Born After 1929
Become Disabled
at Age
Work Credits
Needed
31 through 4220
4422
4624
4826
5028
5230
5432
5634
5836
6038
62 or older40


WHO CAN RECEIVE BENEFITS ON YOUR EARNINGS RECORD?


You can receive Social Security benefits based on your earnings record if you are age 62 or older, or disabled or blind and have enough work credits.

Family members who qualify for benefits on your work record do not need work credits. However, if they file an application December 1, 1996 or later, they must be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien. The following information describes family members who may qualify for benefits on your work record.

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

    small blue and black arrow age 62 and over; or

    small blue and black arrowdivorced from you, age 62 or older, and was married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce; or

    small blue and black arrowunder age 62 and caring for a child (under age 16 or disabled prior to age 22) who is entitled to benefits on your work record.

If you are age 62 or over and have enough work credits to receive Social Security benefits, but have not filed a claim, your divorced spouse may qualify for benefits, if he or she was married to you for at least 10 years prior to the divorce, and has been finally divorced from you for at least 2 years.

Your surviving spouse (widow or widower) may qualify if he or she is:

    small blue and black arrowage 60 or older; or

    small blue and black arrowage 50 or older and disabled; or

    small blue and black arrowdivorced from you, age 60 or older (age 50 if disabled), and was married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce; or

    small blue and black arrow under age 60 and caring for your child (under age 16 or disabled prior to age 22) and who is entitled to child's benefits; or

    small blue and black arrowdivorced from you, under age 60 and caring for his or her child (under age 16 or disabled prior to age 22) who is entitled to benefits on your record.

A dependent parent(s), age 62 or older, of a deceased worker may qualify for benefits based on the worker’s record.

Unmarried children (including stepchildren, adopted children and, in some cases, grandchildren and children born out of wedlock) of disabled, retired, or deceased workers may qualify if they are:

    small blue and black arrowunder age 18 (or between ages 18 and 19 if a full time high school student); or

    small blue and black arrowage 18 or older and disabled before age 22.

 
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