Qualifications: To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, one must have earned 40 credits or 10 years of work. Until 1977, one credit was earned for every calendar quarter which had wages of at least $50. Since 1978, credit is based on one’s annual earnings, with a maximum of four credits per year. In 2014, one credit is earned for every $1,200 of wages.
Benefit Years: There is misconception that Social Security retirement benefits are based on the 10 highest earning years. Benefits are actually calculated on the highest 35 earning years with inflation adjustments. If one has less than 35 earning years, zero is used for the missing years.
Retirement Age: The age for full benefits ranges from 65 to 67 based on one’s birth year. To determine full retirement age, visit the following website: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm.
The Medicare eligibility age is still 65.