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Your Eligibility Based on Your Own Work Record

To be eligible for benefits on your own work record, you need to have worked for 40 quarters of a year or 10 years in total.  The quarters don't have to be consecutive.  But they do have to be in "covered" employment, jobs where Social Security payroll taxes, also known as "FICA contributions," are deducted.  Today, to get a quarter of coverage, you need to earn $1,260 on which you paid Social Security taxes.

To get 4 quarters of coverage in a year, the most quarters of coverage you can get for working in a single year, you need to earn 4 times $1,260 or $5,040 during the year.  But you can do so all within a single 3-month period if you earn $5,040 in that quarter.

Your Eligibility Based on Other Work Records

You may be eligible for benefits based on the work record of a family member if you are a:

  • Current spouse
  • Divorced spouse
  • Surviving spouse
  • Disabled child
  • Minor child
  • Dependent parent