There are several circumstances where you may find yourself eligible for Social Security benefits. The most common, of course, is when you are eligible at retirement age. You may also become eligible when you acquire enough work credits, which for anyone born after 1929 is 40. Credits are based on income and that income amount changes on a yearly basis.

Disability Requirements

Disability may also qualify you for Social Security benefits. Eligibility depends on if you qualify with a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability. This definition is strictly regulated, meaning that you are not able to work as you once were nor are you able to work in any other capacity as deemed by Social Security.

A list of acceptable medical conditions can be found on the Social Security website. This medical condition must be at least a year in duration or up until the time of death. Your benefits also depend on how long you have worked and participated in Social Security. This time, based on work credits accrued on a yearly basis, is determined by actual income. Four work credits can be earned a year depending on that income. In general, you would need about 40 work credits. Any instance that does not fall within these parameters must be considered by the administration.

Survivor Benefits

Benefits are also given to surviving family members if again certain criteria are met. Again, the deceased worker must have accrued enough work credits to qualify. No one needs more than the 40 work credits to be eligible for benefits. Families may receive benefits even if the deceased worker does not have these totals. Six work credits for one and half years of work prior to the worker’s death may also qualify the family. Survivors who are divorced may also qualify for these death benefits if marriage had lasted at least 10 years and there was no remarriage before the age of 60.

If a child, under the age of 18, is disabled, Social Security income benefits may also be available. The criteria for these benefits is based on if the child is disabled and has little or no income. Children must have a condition that seriously limits their activity and this condition must have a year duration or until death. In these cases, a state agency makes the disability determination. Family member resources are also considered at the time of determination.

Eligibility for Social Security benefits vary from each situation. Rules for determination can be confusing and rigid. Please contact our experts to aid you in this process and to ensure that you are receiving all benefits due to you.