A qualifying quarter (QQ) is figured using SSA's method for figuring a quarter of coverage for SSA. QQs are earned by working at a job or as a self-employed person. A maximum of 4 QQs can be earned per year.

For 1978 and later, the number of QQs are credited based solely on the total yearly amount of earnings. All types of earnings follow this rule. The amount of earnings needed to earn a quarter of coverage increases and is different for each year. For 1978 through revised text2018, the amount of earnings needed for each quarter of coverage is:

1978......$250
1979......$260
1980......$290
1981......$310
1982......$340
1983......$370
1984......$390
1985......$410
1986......$440

1987......$460
1988......$470
1989......$500
1990......$520
1991......$540
1992......$570
1993......$590
1994......$620
1995......$630

1996......$640 1997......$670
1998......$700
1999......$740
2000......$780
2001......$830
2002......$870
2003......$890

2004......$900 

2005......$920

2006......$970

2007....$1,000

2008....$1,050

2009...$1,090

2010...$1,120

2011.....$1,120

2012.....$1,130

new manual text2013.....$1,160

new manual text2014.....$1,200

new manual text2015.....$1,220

new manual text2016.....$1,260

new manual text2017.....$1,300

new manual text2018.....$1,320

For a year that has passed, divide the total earnings for the year by the amount listed above to determine the number of QQs for the year. The maximum number of QQs is 4 per year.

For the current year, divide the total earnings for the year by the amount listed above and use the chart below to decide how many QQs to count.

Date of Determination Maximum QQs Possible
On or before March 31 0
April 1 - June 30 1
July 1 - September 30 2
October 1 - December 31 3

Beginning January 1, 1997, do not count a QQ if the wage earner received SSI, TANF, AFDC, SNAP, or Medicaid during the quarter.

To assign quarters from 1937 through 1977:

  • Count a QQ for each calendar quarter in which a person was paid $50 or more in wages; and
  • Count 4 QQ's for each year in which a person's net self-employment earnings were $400 or more; and
  • Count a QQ for each $100 for agricultural wages paid during the year for the years 1955-1977.

Do not count a QQ earned before 1937.