March 2, 2011


By Christina Vital
Rock Island Social Security office


Sometimes people don’t give themselves enough credit. But if you work and pay Social Security taxes, you’re earning credit for yourself every payday — credit that will pay off later in life when it comes time for retirement, or in the event that you become disabled and are unable to work; credit that can help your family if you die early and need to provide for those who depend on you.

You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job or are self-employed and pay Social Security payroll taxes. In 2011, you receive one credit for each $1,120 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. Most people need 10 years of work (40 credits) to be eligible for retirement benefits.

The number of credits needed for ¬disability benefits depends on how old you are when you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled before age 24, you generally need 1 1/2 years of work (six credits) in the three years before you became disabled. At age 31 or older, you generally need at least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.

In most cases, about 10 years of work is needed for a worker’s family to qualify for survivors benefits. Survivors of very young workers may be eligible if the deceased worker was employed for 1? years during the three years before his or her death.

You can find a detailed chart that shows exactly how many credits you would need in the online publication, How You Earn Credits, available at You also may want to read Understanding the Benefits for more information about Social Security and how it works. You can find it online at

Next time you feel like someone else is taking credit for your hard work, just remember that your hard work is earning you credit in ways you probably don’t even think about — Social Security credit.


Millions of taxpayers are busy gathering all the forms and documents they need to file their Federal, State, and local tax returns. If you receive Social Security benefits, one of those items may be your SSA-1099 from Social Security.

Some people who receive Social Security may have to pay taxes on a portion of their benefits. If you’re one of these individuals, a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) is an important tax document for you to have.

Social Security mailed the SSA-1099s for tax year 2010 to all beneficiaries in January. If you receive Social Security and need a replacement SSA-1099 for 2010 in order to file a tax return, you can request it online at

The SSA-1099 shows the total amount of benefits received in the previous year and is used to find out if any Social Security benefits are subject to tax. The Federal tax laws about Social Security benefits provide that:

• Up to 50 percent of Social Security benefits may be subject to Federal income tax for individuals with a combined income between $25,000 and $34,000, or for couples with a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000; and
• Up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits may be subject to Federal income tax for individuals with a combined income above $34,000, or for couples with a combined income above $44,000. (Note: “Combined income” means adjusted gross income, plus nontaxable interest, plus one-half of Social Security benefits.)

For more information on taxation of Social Security benefits, visit the IRS website at request a replacement SSA-1099, visit