You cannot get Social Security if you never worked. However, there are a few exceptions.
Family Members of Workers: The primary way for individuals who have never worked to receive Social Security benefits is through being a family member of a worker. Nonworking spouses, ex-spouses, children, or parents may be eligible for spousal, survivor, or children’s benefits based on the qualifying worker’s earnings record.
Spousal Benefits: Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be eligible for benefits as a spouse if you are at least 62 years old and your spouse is receiving retirement or disability benefits. You may also qualify for Medicare at age 65.
40 Credits Requirement: To be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record, you generally need to have earned at least 40 Social Security credits. These credits are earned by working and paying Social Security taxes. Each year, you can earn a maximum of four credits. Without a work history or sufficient credits, you will not be eligible for retirement benefits.
Disability Benefits: If you have never worked, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability and you meet other eligibility requirements.
Now, let’s explore each of these exceptions further and gain a deeper understanding of how they apply to individuals who have never worked.
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Family Members of Workers
Eligible Family Members
Family members, including spouses, ex-spouses, children, and parents, may be eligible for Social Security benefits if the worker has earned enough credits.
When a worker starts receiving disability benefits, certain family members, such as spouses, divorced spouses, children, and adult children disabled before age 22, may qualify for benefits based on the worker’s record.
If any qualified family members apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will require their Social Security numbers and birth certificates. Proof of marriage and previous marriages may be requested for spouse’s applications.
Benefits for Divorced Spouses
Even if a worker is divorced and has remarried, the ex-spouse may still qualify for benefits on the worker’s record if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, the ex-spouse is at least 62 years old, and unmarried.
When a worker files for retirement benefits, their spouse may be eligible for a benefit based on the worker’s earnings. The spouse must be at least 62 years old or have a qualifying child in their care.
Surviving spouses, surviving divorced spouses, unmarried children, or dependent parents may be eligible for monthly survivor benefits based on the deceased worker’s earnings. A one-time lump sum death payment of $255 may also be made to a qualifying spouse or child.
Impact on Retirement Benefits
If a worker is receiving Social Security retirement benefits, eligible family members, including ex-spouses, spouses, or children, may also receive benefits without reducing the worker’s retirement benefit amount.
While some individuals may not be eligible for Social Security benefits, family members of workers who have earned enough credits may still qualify for spousal, survivor, or children’s benefits based on the worker’s earnings record.
Here’s some points of how spousal benefits work for Social Security:
Even if you haven’t worked under Social Security, you may be eligible for spousal benefits if you are at least 62 years old and your spouse is receiving retirement or disability benefits.
Choosing the Higher Benefit
If you are eligible for both spousal benefits and benefits based on your own earnings history, you can choose to receive the higher monthly amount. You can’t receive both benefits simultaneously.
Age and Marriage Requirements
To qualify for spousal benefits, a current spouse must be at least 62 years old or be caring for a child (under 16 or disabled) of a Social Security recipient. The spouse must also be married to someone currently receiving Social Security Retirement benefits.
Reduction of Benefits
If you or your spouse start receiving Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age, the benefits will be reduced. Taking spousal benefits before full retirement age will result in a further reduction in the benefit amount.
The spousal benefit can be up to half of the worker’s “primary insurance amount” depending on the spouse’s age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before their full retirement age, the benefit will be reduced, except if the spouse is caring for a qualifying child.
Surviving Spouse Benefits
As the surviving spouse of a qualified worker, you can receive reduced benefits from age 60 onwards. If you are eligible for retirement benefits based on your own record and a higher benefit as a spouse, you’ll receive your own benefit first. If the spousal benefit is higher, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.
Remarrying before age 60 (or 50 with a disability) makes you ineligible for benefits as a surviving spouse . Qualifying for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record is still possible if you remarry after age 60 (or 50 with a disability).
Benefit Reduction for Early Retirement
A reduction of spousal benefits occurs if you start taking them before your full retirement age. The reduction is based on the number of months you claim benefits early, up to 36 months. A further reduction of the benefit occurs if you claim benefits for more than 36 months before full retirement age.
40 Credits Requirement
To be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record, you generally need to have earned at least 40 Social Security credits.These credits are earned when Social Security taxes are paid and work is done. Each year, you can earn a maximum of four credits. The amount needed for a credit changes each year when average wages increase.
In 2023, you need to earn $1,640 to receive one credit. You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits, and the number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit you are applying for. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit. However, if you have no work history or sufficient credits, you will not be eligible for retirement benefits based on your own work record. It is important to note that earning more than 40 credits during your working life does not affect your benefit amount.Credits are used for qualification purposes only. Additionally, 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.
Can you get social security disability if you never worked
Obtaining disability benefits without having a work history is possible, but it depends on the specific program and your individual circumstances. The Social Security Administration offers two main types of disability benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that provides financial assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities and limited financial resources. Eligibility for SSI is not based on work history but rather on meeting the Social Security Administration’s medical criteria for disability. The amount of SSI benefits you can receive depends on factors such as your income, assets, and living arrangements.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is an insurance program that pays benefits to individuals who have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years. To qualify for SSDI, you need to have accumulated enough work credits, which means you must have worked recently and for a sufficient duration. Your earnings record and the age at which you became disabled determine the amount of SSDI benefits you can receive.
If you have never worked, you cannot qualify for SSDI based on your own work history. However, you may still be eligible for SSDI based on the work history of someone else, such as a spouse, former spouse, or parent. Certain criteria must be met, such as being married for at least 10 years, being divorced for at least two years, being at least 50 years old, having low vision or blindness, or having a disabled child.
To apply for disability benefits, you will need to complete an application form and provide both medical and non-medical evidence to support your claim. Online, over the phone, or in person at a local Social Security office, the application can be submitted. The process of receiving a decision on your application may take several months or longer, and it’s important to note that initial denials are not uncommon. If your application is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision with the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in Social Security disability cases.
It is advisable to consult with a Social Security disability lawyer to understand the specific eligibility requirements and navigate the application process effectively. They can provide guidance, help gather necessary documentation, and represent your interests throughout the application or appeals process.
While most individuals who haven’t worked are typically not eligible for Social Security benefits, exceptions exist. Eligible family members of workers, such as nonworking spouses, ex-spouses, children, or parents, may receive benefits based on the worker’s earnings record. Moreover, individuals who have never worked can potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they meet the definition of disability and other requirements. To obtain accurate information, it is advisable to consult the Social Security Administration or a qualified professional who can provide guidance tailored to specific circumstances.
Yes, you can apply for disability benefits even if you are not currently working, as long as you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability and other eligibility requirements.
Social Security disability beneficiaries must adhere to work limitations to maintain eligibility. For non-blind individuals, the 2023 SGA limit is $1,310/month, while blind individuals have a limit of $2,190/month.
Homemakers may qualify for Social Security benefits as eligible family members or by meeting spousal benefit requirements. Eligibility depends on factors such as the worker’s earnings record, marital status, and age.
Generally, if you have never worked, you cannot qualify for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record. However, there are exceptions for certain family members of workers and individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for disability benefits.