The National Directory of Certified Public Accountants

Ask A CPA - Social Security

Social Security - Eligibility

Everyone born in 1929 or later needs 40 Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. You can earn up to four credits per year, so you will need to work at least 10 years to become eligible for retirement benefits. Each year the amount of earnings needed for a credit rises as average earnings levels rise. In 2012, you receive one credit for each $1,130 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year.

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