How Much Social Security Will I Get If I Only Worked for 10 Years?

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Social Security benefits are generally set aside as part of your retirement plan and replace your income when you retire.

To establish eligibility for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines the retiree’s highest 35 years of earnings. It inputs them into an inflation-adjusted algorithm to determine the full retirement age benefit.

But what about those who have worked for a much shorter period? For example, how much Social Security will I get if I only worked for 10 years?

Read this post to the end to learn how Social Security benefits work and whether you can qualify if you only worked for ten years.

How Much Social Security Will I Get If I Only Worked for 10 Years?

So, how much Social Security will I get if I only worked for 10 years?

You are unlikely to qualify for Social Security benefits if you only worked for ten years. Generally, you must have worked for at least 35 years for your average monthly income to be calculated.

Is Social Security Considered Earned Income?

Your top earning years throughout this period are used to determine the average. That means you cannot qualify for benefits if you don’t generate enough income during that period.

That’s because the SSA will not credit you with any income until your 35th year of employment.

What Happens If You Stop Working Before Retirement Age?

You can quit working before age 62 and still collect Social Security payments if you put in at least 35 years of work. This applies even if you did not work in the years before retiring.

However, your benefit amount may be lowered if you apply before attaining full retirement age. For instance, the benefits you would get if you retired at age 62 would be 25% lower than those you would get if you retired at age 67.

You can hold off receiving benefits until after you turn 70, enabling your retirement benefit to grow while still working.

Disabled Workers Can Receive Benefits

If you are disabled per your insurance policy and medical criteria and have worked for at least 35 years, you may qualify for Social Security benefits.

When Does the SSA Consider You Disabled?

Disabled workers and their family members can also collect benefits while still receiving workers’ compensation, but their amount will be reduced.

How Are Social Security Benefits Calculated?

The SSA grants benefits on very stringent rules. Your Social Security benefits will be calculated in the following ways.

Social Security credit system

The SSA converts your employment history into credits to determine how much in benefits you should get. As of 2022, every $1,510 earned income gets you one work credit. You can only earn a maximum of four credits per year.

Inflation adjustment

The SSA modifies this amount every year to account for inflation. This is known as wage indexing, which increases the national average pay annually.

Your income is adjusted for inflation based on your average yearly earnings in the year you turn 60.

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How Much Social Security Will I Get If I Only Worked for 10 Years?

The average salaries for all the indexed years are then divided by the average salaries for your indexing year. This sum is then multiplied by your appropriate earnings.

Highest 35 years of earnings

When calculating your benefits, your highest income within the 35 years determines your average monthly income.

You will add up your earnings over 35 years and divide them by 420 to determine your highest earning period. 420 is the total number of months in 35 years. That is equivalent to the estimated Average Indexed Monthly Earnings.

Primary insurance amount estimation

The Social Security bend points formula is then used to calculate your Primary Insurance Amount after determining your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).

This formula was developed to replace low-income employees’ larger income share, which is more beneficial to them than high-income workers.

Can I Apply for Social Security If I'm Self-Employed?

The bend points are projected once you turn 62. It is determined by dividing the first $960 of AIME by 90%, the next $5,785 by 32%, and the remainder over $5,785 by 15%.

The sum of these three estimations is used to calculate the primary insurance benefit amount, which is rounded to the nearest dime. A benefit is rounded off to the lowest dollar amount.

Other Requirements for Social Security Benefits

Anyone born after 1929 must have accrued at least 40 credits to qualify for Social Security benefits.

While this requires about ten years of work, ten years is not always sufficient to qualify for benefits.

Remember that you must wait at least 35 years to qualify.

Should I Take Social Security at 62?

Divorced spouses whose marriage lasted at least ten years can get Social Security benefits from their ex. Beneficiaries’ dependents are also eligible for benefits.

Any disabled adult who is 22 years of age or older who was disabled before that age is eligible to receive Social Security Income.

If a child is legally disabled, they may also be eligible if they are younger than 18.

Learn More About the Social Security Administration Process!

Do you still have questions about how much Social Security benefits you qualify for or need help understanding why you are ineligible? Be sure to consult a lawyer for further guidance.

At Legal Giant, we connect you with the best Social Security lawyer near you to offer insightful counsel on how retirement income works.

Contact us at 833-641-1650 to schedule a free consultation today.

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