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:
Age 62 or older, or a person with a disability or blindness.
"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 noncitizen 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 be a person with a disability or blindness, 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’s rules. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you met the requirements of a person with a disability. You generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become a person with a disability. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
The rules are as follows:
Before age 24 –– You may qualify if you have six work credits earned in the three–year period ending when your disability starts.
Age 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: If at age 27 you become disabled, you would need 12 work credits in the past six years (between age 21 and age 27).
Age 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 and Became A Person with a Disability at Age||Work Credits
|31 through 42||20|
|62 or older||40|
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 a person with a disability or blindness 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 noncitizen.
If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may qualify if he or she is:
age 62 and over.
divorced from you, age 62 or older, and were married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce.
under age 62 and caring for a child (under age 16 or a child with a disability prior to age 22) who is entitled to benefits on your work record.
If you are age 62 or older and have enough work credits to receive Social Security benefits, but have not filed a claim, your divorced spouse may still qualify for benefits on your record. A divorced spouse must have been married to you for at least 10 years, and have been finally divorced from you for at least 2 years. This will not impact your Social Security benefit.
Your surviving spouse may qualify if they are:
age 60 or older.
age 50 or older and have a disability.
divorced from you, age 60 or older (age 50 and have a disability), and were married to you for at least 10 years prior to your divorce.
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
divorced from you, under age 60 and caring for their 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 of disabled, retired or deceased workers may qualify if they are:
under age 18; or
18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22.
Under certain circumstances, we may also pay benefits to stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren and adopted children.