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What Can Prevent You from Getting Social Security?

Last updated: October 10, 2023

In today's rapidly changing world, the importance of financial security can't be overstated. For millions of Americans, this financial security comes from Social Security. But what happens when the rug is pulled from under your feet and you cannot secure these benefits?

Understanding Social Security: A Brief Overview

Social Security is a U.S. government program that provides financial assistance to retired workers, disabled individuals, and their survivors. The program, funded by payroll taxes, has been an integral part of the American social fabric since its inception in 1935.

The Role and Importance of Social Security

Social Security plays a vital role in ensuring the financial well-being of millions of Americans. It is more than just a retirement program. It's a lifeline that helps people keep their heads above water in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as disability or the death of a breadwinner.

Potential Roadblocks to Social Security

There are, however, certain factors that can prevent you from receiving Social Security benefits. Understanding these roadblocks can help you navigate the Social Security landscape more effectively.

Insufficient Work Credits

To qualify for Social Security benefits, you need to earn sufficient work credits. A worker can earn up to four credits per year. The number of credits needed to secure benefits depends on your age and the benefits you're applying for.

Excessive Income Levels

Social Security has strict rules concerning income. If you earn more than the prescribed limit, your benefits could be reduced or even eliminated.

Certain Criminal Convictions

Certain criminal convictions can lead to the suspension of your Social Security benefits. For instance, individuals incarcerated for over 30 continuous days can't receive Social Security benefits for their imprisonment.

Non-US Citizenship Without Eligibility

Non-U.S. citizens can receive Social Security benefits, but only if they meet specific eligibility requirements. Failing to meet these requirements can bar you from receiving benefits.

Early Application for Benefits

Applying for Social Security benefits too early can result in reduced benefits. The full retirement age for Social Security is 66 or 67, depending on your birth year. If you apply before reaching this age, your benefits will be reduced.

In-depth Look at Common Social Security Pitfalls

Now that we've briefly touched on the potential roadblocks, let's delve deeper into common pitfalls.

Understanding the Earnings Test

How Much Can You Earn Without Affecting Social Security?

The Social Security Earnings Test is a set of rules that determines how much income you can earn without affecting your Social Security benefits. If you're below the full retirement age and earn more than the stipulated annual limit, your benefits will be reduced.

Dealing with Criminal Convictions and Social Security

In addition to suspension during imprisonment, certain criminal convictions can lead to permanent disqualification from receiving benefits.

Social Security Benefits for Non-US Citizens

Non-U.S. citizens need to meet certain criteria to qualify for benefits. They must have a valid Social Security number, be lawfully in the United States, and meet the same criteria for benefits as U.S. citizens.


1. How many work credits are needed for Social Security benefits?

The number of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security benefits largely depends on the type of benefit and your age. Generally, for retirement benefits, you need 40 credits, equivalent to 10 years of work. However, for disability and survivor benefits, the requirement varies depending on the worker's age at the time of disability or death.

2. How much income can I earn without affecting my Social Security benefits?

The amount of income you can earn without affecting your Social Security benefits varies based on age. As of my knowledge cutoff is September 2021; if you are under full retirement age, the limit is $18,960 per year. If you exceed this limit, Social Security deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn above the threshold. The year you reach your full retirement age, the limit increases to $50,520, with $1 deducted for every $3 earned over this amount until the month you attain full retirement age. There's no limit on earnings starting the month you hit full retirement age.

3. Can non-U.S. citizens receive Social Security benefits?

Yes, non-U.S. citizens can receive Social Security benefits if they meet specific criteria. They must have lawfully lived in the United States and earned enough work credits. They also need a valid Social Security number. Certain non-citizens living abroad may also be eligible to receive benefits under international Social Security agreements.

4. Can criminal convictions affect my Social Security benefits?

Yes, certain criminal convictions can affect your Social Security benefits. If you are incarcerated for over 30 continuous days, you generally can't receive Social Security benefits during imprisonment. Additionally, individuals convicted of certain serious crimes, like treason, may permanently lose the right to receive Social Security benefits.

5. What is the full retirement age for Social Security benefits?

The full retirement age for Social Security benefits, varying with your birth year, is 66 for those born from 1943-1954 and 67 for those born in 1960 or later. You can take reduced benefits from 62 or increase them by delaying claims until 70.

Conclusion: Navigating Social Security

Securing your Social Security benefits can seem daunting, especially considering the potential roadblocks along the way. However, by understanding these roadblocks and learning how to navigate them, you can secure your financial future and live a comfortable life in your golden years.

Remember, Social Security is not a privilege but a right you have earned through years of hard work. So, ensure you're in the know about what could prevent you from getting Social Security.

To learn more about the social security disability evaluation in your local area, read through our blogs at Disability Help today.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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