Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

How long do I have to work to get Social Security?


To qualify for retirement benefits, you need 40 Social Security credits. You earn credits by paying Social Security tax on your income, and you can earn up to four per year.

Video: How Long Do I Have to Work to Get Social Security?

In 2024, $1,730 in earnings equals one credit; you earn four credits after making $6,920 for the year. For eligibility purposes, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to earn your 40 credits, but practically speaking most people qualify for Social Security after a decade in the workforce.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

Qualification for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — benefits for people unable to work due to a significant health issue — can require as few as six credits (if you are under 24 years old) and as many as 40 (if you are 62 or over). The specific number depends on the age at which you became disabled.

There is no work requirement for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a safety-net program administered by Social Security that provides cash assistance for people who are over 65, blind or disabled and have very limited income and financial assets.

Keep in mind

  • The minimum income to earn work credits typically changes annually, based on national wage trends.
  • People who did not earn sufficient credits to qualify for Social Security on their own may receive benefits on the work record of a spouse, former spouse or parent.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?