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Can you buy into Social Security?

No. You can't buy Social Security credits, the income-based building blocks of benefit eligibility. You can't borrow them or transfer them from someone else's record.

The only way to earn your credits is by working and paying Social Security taxes.

In 2020, you earn one credit for each $1,410 in income from “covered” work. That's work where you paid into the Social Security system via Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll withholding or self-employment taxes. You can earn up to, but no more than, four credits each calendar year.

Qualifying for Social Security retirement benefits requires 40 credits, so most people qualify after a decade in the workforce. However, no time or age limit is in place on collecting credits. No matter how long it takes or how old you are, you still will qualify for retirement benefits if you reach 40 credits. There's just no way to get the credits except by working.

Keep in mind

  • If you are self-employed, you must make at least $1,410 in net income to collect a Social Security credit. For wage earners, credits are based on gross earnings.

Published February 24, 2020

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