Qualifying for Social security

You need so many quarters of employment to qualify in the first place.

I seem to recall the ability to “buy in” in some manner if you are short a few.

Anybody know??

To the best of my recollection from my thirty years of working for Social Security, there is no way to “buy in” if you don’t have sufficient credits. The only way to earn credits is through wages or net earnings in self-employment; if you’re short one or two credits you can’t just buy the additional credits you need.

I did see one or two cases where someone had an application denied because they had insufficient credits and then reapply a year or so later, during which time they had earned just enough credits to qualify by working for a friend’s or family member’s business. Before the new claim was approved, there was an investigation to verify that the applicant had actually worked for the reported wages.

The answer is correct. One thing I’d like to point out is that the SS no longer uses the term “quarter” for the way credits are earned. To quote their site:

"In 2010, you receive one credit for each $1,120 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. "

So it doesn’t matter if you earn all four credits for the year in one month.

Its 40 credits or (for people who worked before 1978) ten years of employment. If you are self-employed, then you can earn credits for each $1,120 in earnings. How to earn credits

The amount for how much income to generate a credit is here.

Just about anything should qualify as long as SS taxes were paid. My dad normally wouldn’t qualify since he was a federal employee. But over the years, he had a few private sector jobs. The nine months he worked at a hamburger stand as a kid were enough to put him over the top.

As far as I know, you can’t buy in to SS.

My mom was able to “buy” extra service in the federal employees pension plan which may be what you have heard about. But that was an odd case that took a little bit of work with the personnel folks at the Department of Defense.

I think that last response makes its seem like you should have heard about my mom being able to buy into the federal plan (**** five minute edit window).

Just to clarify, you may have heard about the ability to do it in the federal pension plan. My mom was able to do it. But she had actually worked the time and was just not credited for it. Long story. Ultimately, she had to buy additional service buy paying a token sum to the Government to represent what they would have contributed for her in those years.

Yes, I’d forgotten to mention that. At one time a “quarter of coverage” actually referred to the calender quarter in which it was earned; if you earned $10,000 in January and didn’t work the rest of the year you would only get credit for one quarter. I don’t remember when this was changed, but I think it was in the late 70s, when employers started reporting wages annually rather than quarterly, which made it difficult, if not impossible, to assign wages to a specific calender quarter.

I have 34 quarters and would have had 16 more but for four years at the University of Illinois, which had opted out. In that case, is there any possibility of “buying back” those credits?

You might be thinking of medicare, which requires 10 years of paying taxes and offers a buy in option if you retire at 65 w/o those 40 quarters of medicare taxes.

They have rates for people with certain numbers of quarters below 40.

I think SS works by basing benefits on 30 years of wages and if you have fewer than 30 years, they just use 0 for all the other years and average them out. So if you work for 20 years, they take your income and average it out to 30 years and determine benefits from that.

Are you talking about “buying back” the 34 credits you already have, or somehow being able to get credit for the 16 you would have earned if UofI hadn’t opted out? In either case, I think you’re out of luck. I have (IIRC) 19 credits from before I got my government job, and unless I either get a job or start a business to earn the additional credits they will likely go to waste. Considering how low my potential Social Security benefits would be, especially since they would be reduced because I’m receiving a Federal pension, it’s not worth the effort.

Federal employees cannot buy into the federal pensions systems (there are several) just as you cannot buy into social security. If during federal employment your service is improperly credited (meaning no deductions from pay that contribute into the pension system) it is possible to manually make those deductions at a later date. This is not buying into the system.

Federal employees who leave federal service and request a withdrawal of their deductions may do so. However, if one returns to federal service, in order to be credited for prior service, must pay back the lump sum, along with interest, in order to reacquire previous retirement status.

This is correct. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is typically available to those over 65 without a monthly premium. If the beneficiary is short of the 40 required credits, Part A coverage is available at a premium level dependent on the achieved number of credits. See here for 2009 premium rates.

Parts B, C (Medicare Advantage), and D eligibility is dependent on Part A eligibility. Someone who buys into Part A has the exact same eligibility for these Parts as those with the 40 credits.

I think, but don’t quote me on this :), that the poster was referring to the time when the federal government switched from the CRS pension plan to the FERS retirement plan. At that time, federal employees (who were under the older, pension plan) could buy into the new, retirement plan, if they so chose.

I can vouch for this. Skulldigger worked under CSRS (I corrected the abbreviation in your quote) and did not pay into Social Security nor accrue qualifying quarters/credits while doing so. when the Feds. made the switchover, she was given the option of “buying” qualifying quarters or not (and also switching to the new plan or remaining in CSRS).

No time to look up the details yet but apparently there is something called the non-farm optional method.

I think you have to be self-employed and under certain circumstances you can volunteer to pay self-employment tax on income you didn’t actually earn in order to gain credits.