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Social Security Retirement Insurance

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Retirement?

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To be covered: you, a spouse, ex-spouse, a parent or someone on whom you are dependent, must be "fully insured" which means the person must have the appropriate number of credits, generally 40 credits, and at leaset reached 62 years of age.

  • Credits are earned as follows: A worker makes payments into the Social Security System through F.I.C.A. payroll taxes. 
  • Payments become credits. The amount required for one credit varies.
  • Social Security looks at the number of credits to determine is you are fully insured. 

The amount of the benefit to varies depending on whether the insured person takes Early Retirement, Full Retirement or Delayed Retirement.

While most of us work in jobs that are covered by Social Security Retirement, this is not the case for everyone. Some employees who are not covered by Social Security include:

  • Most federal employees hired before 1984.
  • Railroad employees with more than 10 years of service. (For more information on Railroad Retirement go to offsite link.)
  • Employees of some state and local governments that chose not to participate in Social Security.
  • Children under age 21 who work for a parent (except a child age 18 or over who works in the parent's business).
  • Self employed people who do not report their earnings to the IRS.

The easy way to tell whether you are eligible for Social Security Retirement is to note whether F.I.C.A. taxes have been withheld from your wages. If the tax has been taken out, you may be eligible. The question then is whether you've been contributing to the plan long enough to be considered fully insured (See Becoming Fully Insured) and are at an age which makes you eligible to receive benefits. (See Amount of Retirement Benefits.)

A spouse, ex-spouse, children and dependents of someone who has paid into Social Security through F.I.C.A. taxes may also be eligible for certain benefits. For information about your situation, see:

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