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What is the value of the 40th Social Security working credit?

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  • What is the value of the 40th Social Security working credit?

    Just wondering what the value of the 40th working credit was for Social Security.

    My wife is a stay at home mom, and has been since we were married. Prior to our wedding, she worked as a consultant. But, we had kids, she got busy taking care of them, and never made it back to the workforce; that was about 12 years ago.

    I have a good paying job, and have maxed out on the Social Security tax threshold for the last 10+ years.

    The other day, we saw the she had actually earned 39 of the 40 credits needed for Social Security retirement benefits from her previous employment.

    Just wondering if it is worth it for her to go out and find work for a bit to earn that last credit. How substantial is the benefit there? Wondering if it is worth the time/hassle to do it or not.


  • #2
    There should be no real benefit. She will be able claim on your benefit normally, after your death or in the event of a divorce.

    Still I would get the 40th credit. In 2021, only $1470 in earned income is require to earn one (1) credit


    • #3
      $886 per month PIA under her SS# minimum.
      As a spouse, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or collect a spousal benefit in the amount of 50% of your spouse's Social Security benefit, but not both. ... Additionally, if you are the higher earner, your spouse can apply to collect spousal benefits based on your work record.


      • #4
        Does one need 40 credits to apply for Medicare? Or can they do so on their spouses history, and if they are divorced?


        • #5
          Spouse's, same as SS.


          • #6
            She should earn the 40th credit sometime when convenient. There are many permutations to collect SS, but a common approach in your family scenario is for the lower earning spouse to claim early and the higher earning spouse to claim at 70.As Tim points out, her benefit will be modest but $9-10k a year is not nothing. Then, after you file at 70, she can apply for the spousal benefit. The formula is tricky, but in effect she gets a supplement to her SS to bring her up to 50% off your PIA.*

            *Note: 1) her spousal benefit is a percentage of your PIA at 67, not the boosted amount you will get at 70; 2) it is actually 50% less the small early payment penalty she incurs by taking hers before her full retirement date at 67; 3) Mike Piper will calculate these claiming strategies to maximize for you both at


            • #7
              There are enough other scenarios where it might be useful such as survivor's benefits in case she dies while you still have children or before you start taking social security:

              There are also potentially disability benefits for her if something happens where the 40th credit is useful (although you can get with fewer credits at earlier ages)

              And if you do the math: 1500 of self employment at a 15.3% SE tax rate = ~$230 in SE tax + you income tax rate for some potential additional option value