How long do I have to pay into Social Security to be entitled to a benefit from it?
Forty “credits,” which can be earned in as little as 10 years of full or part-time work, is all that anyone needs to be insured for retirement and survivors insurance benefits. A person earns one credit for about each $1,200 in earnings, up to the yearly maximum of four credits. This does not mean that at least that amount must be earned in each quarter of the year. For example, anyone earning for times that much during the first month of the year would be entitled to the maximum four quarters of coverage for that year. This number changes slightly each year.

Eligibility for disability benefits can apply with as few as 20 credits.

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