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Social Security Credits Based On Wages Earned After 1936

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at ssa.gov.

214. Social Security Credits Based On Wages Earned After 1936

214.1 How are credits assigned for work before 1978?

Credits earned are based on wages earned after 1936 and up to and including the calendar quarter that the worker dies. Before 1978, credit was obtained as of the first day of that quarter. As long as the total wages paid to the worker in that quarter amounted to at least $50, it does not matter on which date the $50 total was first reached.

214.2 How are credits assigned for work after 1977?

Under the revised definition of credit in effect after 1977, the number of credits assigned to a calendar year depends on the amount or earnings credited to that year. This is true regardless of the type of earnings credited. If your total earnings for the calendar year equals four times the designated amount reflected on the chart in §212.3, each quarter is a credit.

214.3 How are credits assigned for years after 1977 if you earn less than four in a year?

If you earn less than four credits in a year after 1977, the credits are assigned to a specific quarter when needed to meet insured status or increase the amount payable. Credit is effective on the first day of the quarter that it is assigned.

214.4 How are credits assigned for agricultural work?

Credit for agricultural wages was obtained in the same manner as non-agricultural wages from 1951 through 1954. From 1955 through 1977, a farm employee acquired credits based on total covered wages paid to him or her for farm work during a calendar year. A farm employee earned one credit for each $100 in cash wages paid during the year. After 1977, a farm employee earns a credit for each designated amount in cash wages paid during the year. (See §212.3.)

Note: Not all cash pay for farm work is “wages” to qualify for credits. (See §901.)

Last Revised: Aug. 2, 2005

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