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Social Security Coverage for the Self-Employed

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

1100. Social Security Coverage for the Self-Employed

1100.1 When did Social Security coverage begin for self-employed people?

Most self-employed people became covered by Social Security in 1951.

1100.2 What are the exceptions?

  1. Farmers, ministers, and some other individuals (including certain professionals) were not covered until 1955;

  2. Additional groups of professionals were covered for taxable years ending after 1955; and

  3. Self-employed doctors of medicine were covered for taxable years ending on or after December 31, 1965.

    Note: See §1122 for a detailed list of activities excluded from self-employment coverage.

1100.3 How is self-employment income calculated?

"Self-employment income" that is creditable for Social Security is based on "net earnings from self-employment" derived from a "trade or business" covered by the law.

Payment from self-employment that is not covered under Social Security is included when figuring income for earnings test purposes. (See Chapter 18)

Last Revised: Jun. 23, 2005



There are 7 Comments

How much can I earn weekly, monthly, or yearly & still be able to recieve my benefits? My job I sit so I do not have to stand which is my disability my back. I do not want to claim more than I should & get kicked off of SSI.


Earning wages may reduce your SSI benefit. However, the first $20 of most income received in a month, the first $65 of earnings, and one–half of earnings over $65 received in a month are not counted as "income" and will not reduce your SSI benefit.

See the following page for examples of how wages can reduce your SSI benefit :

These pages describe programs which help disabled folks re-enter the workforce while receiving benefits :

How difficult is it to file for SSDI as a self-employed person? Do I have to completely stop working before I file?

I have MS. I am a sole-proprietor and am currently operating my business, but it takes much longer to get a job done and I am in pain most days. I cannot continue, but have to just to meet my bills. I want to sell it, but that will take time. I can't just stop working completely.

Should I get an attorney to help me through the process?

First, you'll need to have sufficient work history to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Your time as a self-employed worker certainly will count, as will other time spent as an employee, if applicable. See here for qualification rules :

Note that even after you qualify for disability, there is a five month waiting period before you'll receive money :

Social Security may look more closely at disability claims for self-employed workers. See here for guidance :

Good morning!

I`m a foreign student (F1 visa).
I`d like to start a business (buy shop, nail saloon) and was wondering
if I can get a Social Security Number or Green Card, since I`m going to pay taxes.
Is this possible?

Do i need to change my visa to be a business owner ?
Where i can find more information about this process?
There is a Social Security office near my city, should i go there with my Form I-20, and Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status?


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