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Not enough SS credits. Am I able to collect under spouses work record?

I am 66, retired, and only have 38 credits/quarters, so I am 2 short. Apparently one of my employers from the 1970's never reported my earnings and my 30 year career as a firefighter I didn't pay into SS (only into pension fund)


I have an ex spouse, we were married 28 years (she is 64) and a current spouse, married 10 years. She is 57 and currently collecting SS disability. 


I can't seem to find any info on how to apply for SS using spouses work record. I really don't care how much I would get. I'd just like to to cover the Medicare Part B monthly payment that I pay out of pocket.


I've had people tell me that since I have been married 10+ years to my current spouse, that I should be able to get something, but searching online hasn't really shown me anything definitive 

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Bronze Conversationalist

@wl4596So far, all replies to your posting are correct and provide you with solutions to pursue. In my opinion, the best approach is to find work covered by the SS Program to accumulate the required 40 Quarters/Credits. Although any SS Benefit will be reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), you should still receive a SS Benefit that will exceed the current Medicare Part B contribution of approximately $170. As you may not know, the SS Benefit Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) requires 35 years of indexed earnings to develop your Average Indexed Monthly (AIME). Zeroes are averaged in for any years less than 35. So, if you work the required 40 Quarters/Credits or 10 years, you will have 25 years of zeroes averaged in your AIME. That will leave you with a small AIME. The first threshold for 2022 is $1,024/month. The percentage payable for that threshold is 90% which is mostly applicable for low earners or folks that worked very short periods. Because you already have a Government Pension, your percentage will be 40% pursuant to the WEP. For example, if your AIME is $1,000, your PIA will be $400, not $900. Your PIA should be enough to cover Medicare Part B contributions currently and into the future. I am providing a link to the WEP fact sheet If the fact sheet does not copy and paste correctly, you will receive the entire WEP provisions. Simply click on the words, Fact Sheet, which is highlighted in "blue" in the WEP provisions. With regard to your question regarding SS Spousal Benefits, there is a link to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) which is Publication No. 05-10007 in the first paragraph on page two (2) of the WEP Fact Sheet. The GPO will reduce any Spousal or Survivor Benefits by 2/3 (66.67%) of your government pension. I suspect 66.67% of your government pension will far exceed 50% of your spouse's SS Benefit (which is your Spousal Benefit). Therefore, your SS Spousal Benefit will be zero. For example, your government pension is $3,000 and your spouse's SS Benefit is $2,000. Your SS Spousal Benefit of $1,000 (50% of $2,000) will be reduced by $2,000 (.6667 X $3,000). Your SS Spousal Benefit will be zero. It should be noted that if both you and your spouse were covered by the SS Program, Spousal and Survivor Benefits are reduced dollar for dollar or 100% of the SS Benefit not just 66.67%. I don't know why folks covered by government pensions receive a lessor reduction. In summary, if employable, the suggestion by ReTiReD51 is your best approach to receiving a SS Benefit. 

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Periodic Contributor

Call the national help line 1-800-772-1213 (say “agent” over and over until you get to a live person). Hold times are shorter when the rest of the country is otherwise occupied. The line is open 7a.m. Eastern to 7 p.m. pacific.

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Honored Social Butterfly


I think you might be falling between some cracks here.  But there may be some ways forward.

1.  @ReTiReD51 gave you one way 

2.  It does sound like that whatever your benefit amount from Social Security covered work might be adjusted with the Windfall Elimination Provision most specifically your 30 year work with the fire dept. if they did not participate in the Social Security system - some state / local government employment don't participate.

If that is the case, whatever Social Security benefits to which you are entitled - your own or spousal is gonna be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of Social Security.

3.  You aren't gonna be able to file for divorced spousal benefits under the earnings of your ex-wife because you got married.  

4.  However, if your current wife is receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits and NOT SSI (Supplemental Security Income).  Under the SSDI program there are family benefits.  Read this SSA page to see if you are eligible for this program; but again - even your benefit under this Family SSDI program will be reduced by the WEP. - Social Security Disability - Family Benefits


Hopefully, in one of these ways you will be able to inch out a few bucks to pay your Part B premiums - IF you are lower income, you might be able to get some help even there.  This Medicare link describes the eligibility and the help - Medicare Savings Programs

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Social Butterfly


@wl4596  Social Security doesn’t care how long it takes you to earn 40 credits, but you can only earn no more than 4 credits each year. That’s where the 40 credits and 10 years typical employment come from.


Social Security Credits


You only need 2 credits, so why not pick up a part-time job paying into social security long enough to earn those 2 credits. In 2021, $1,470 in earnings equals one credit. All you need to earn in the next 7 weeks $1,470 x 2 = $2940 and you’ll have your 40 credits by 2022.



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