Social Security Retirement Benefits Eligibility

We emphasize SITUATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY in the NSSA® Certificate program, as all of your clients are UNIQUE. Your clients may be single, married with wide age differences, married with narrow age differences, divorced, surviving spouses, eligible to file a Restricted Application, public employees, etc. Advisors, (YOU), must understand the issues and questions that related to every unique client. You are your clients’ trusted advisor and must understand Social Security. Advisors attending the National Social Security Advisor Certificate program change their mindset and become PROACTIVE. NSSA® Advisors do not wait for clients to bring up the topic Social Security. NSSA® Advisors are confident in their knowledge, and actually BEGIN THE DISCUSSION. Which type of advisor are you? Hesitant to discuss SS? Confident in your understanding of SS? Proactive?

In this installment of SITUATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY, (SSS), we discuss the eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits.

There are only two requirements to become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits;

1) Forty credits – you can earn a maximum of four, (4), credits per year. Thus, you need 10 years of part time work to earn 40 credits. Social Security Administration used to refer to this requirement as “quarters” but changed this to “credits”. How is a credit earned? By working in every quarter? No. A credit is earned based on earned income (wages and net s/e income). In 2020, one credit is earned when you have earned income of $1,410. If you earn $5,640 in 2020, you will receive four credits. It does not matter when the $5,640 is earned. If it takes all twelve months to earn $5,640 or you earn this amount in January alone, you will earn four credits. Many advisors believe that clients must work in every quarter. This is not the case. Clients earn credits just by having earned income. If you earn $1,410 you will receive one credit. If you earn $2,820 you will receive two credit. Pretty simple!

Your clients, Tom and Cindy, come into your office to discuss their Social Security benefits. You review their Social Security benefit statements and see that Tom is eligible for retirement benefits as he has earned more than 40 credits. Cindy only has 36 credits. How can Cindy obtain four additional credits to qualify for her own SS retirement benefits? Qualifying for her own benefits might allow Tom to wait until his FRA or longer, (up to age 70) to claim his benefits resulting in increased benefits for himself along with an increased widow benefit to Cindy. If Cindy works in 2020 and earns $5,640, she will receive the additional four credits. Cindy can earn this amount in one month and not work another day the rest of the year. If Cindy only has 32 credits, she can work in 2020 and 2021 to obtain the additional eight credits. If Tom owns a business, Cindy can do some administrative work to earn compensation and receive the necessary credits to be eligible for her own benefits. As your clients’ trusted advisor please understand how credits are earned and how you can help your clients to obtain the necessary credits to be eligible for retirement benefits.

2) Must have attained age 62 for the entire month. Attained age 62? Whoa! What do we mean by “attained”? What is the difference between turning age 62 and attaining age 62? You turn age 62 on your birthday and your attain 62 the day before your birthday. Thus, if Albert turned age 62 on June 18th, then he actually attained age 62 on June 17th. Your clients must have attained age 62 for the entire month to be eligible for SS retirement benefits. If Samantha turned age 62 on June 18th, she would not be eligible to begin Social Security retirement benefits until July. The only folks that can begin their retirement benefits in the birth month of turning age 62 are those that were born on the 1st or 2nd of the month. Everyone else is not eligible until the month after reaching age 62. I was born on February 13th, thus am not eligible to begin my benefits until March!

So your clients must have 40 credits and have attained age 62 for the entire month to qualify for SS retirement benefits. Now the question is when will SSA begin sending your clients SS benefits? Your clients must file for benefits. The Social Security Administration will not automatically send benefits upon reaching age 62. Furthermore, SSA will not automatically send benefits upon reaching age 70. Your clients MUST file!

To learn more about the National Social Security Advisor Certificate program, please visit or contact Marc Kiner by phone 513.218.8505 or by e-mail


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