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Social Security eligibility requires earned income

I plan to retire in three years at age 62. My Social Security statement shows the benefit I will receive. However, I did not work for 11 years because I was caring for my children, which I consider as a full-time job. Shouldn’t I be compensated for that? And if I had never worked because I decided to care for my children, wouldn’t I still receive some sort of Social Security? If the answer to that question is yes, why not compensate me for those 11 years?

Your eligibility for a Social Security benefit and the size of that benefit are not based on how hard you worked, how important your work may have been to society, how well you did it, or how much compensation you feel it deserved.

Every benefit paid by Social Security is based on a specific work record of dollars-and-cents earnings on which taxes were paid.

No, if you had never worked, you would not still receive “some sort of Social Security” unless you were eligible to claim a benefit based on someone else’s dollars-and-cents work record. To do that, you would have to be the qualifying spouse, the qualifying former spouse, or the qualifying dependent child of someone who earned income on which he or she paid taxes for at least 10 years.

Every Social Security benefit is determined by a mathematical formula based on 35 years of paid work. If you had only 10 years of earned income, it counts years in which you had no earnings as 25 years of zero dollars, regardless of why you were out of the workforce. If you earned income for more than 35 years, the formula counts only your 35 highest earning years.

THE BOTTOM LINE There is no Social Security benefit for unpaid work.


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