Skip to content
Social Security Online
Automatic Determinations
Office of the Chief Actuary SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home

Benefit Amounts with Limited Applicability

Automatic Determinations

Estimate your benefit

Benefit formula

Full retirement age

How retirement benefits are computed

The following two methods for computing retirement benefits were more common in the past, but today have very limited applicability.

Old-law Benefit Tables
For eligibility before 1979, benefits are determined by means of a benefit table. Each year the primary insurance amounts and the maximum family benefits shown in the table are updated to reflect the latest cost-of-living increase. In addition, the table is extended to reflect the higher monthly wage and related benefit possible under the latest contribution and benefit base. Such benefit tables for eligibility before 1979, sometimes called old-law benefit tables, are available beginning with the table for 1959.

Special Minimum Benefit Tables
"Special minimum" benefits are payable to certain individuals with long periods of relatively low earnings. To qualify for such benefits, an individual must have at least 11 "years of coverage." To earn a year of coverage for purposes of the special minimum, a person must earn at least a certain proportion (25 percent for years before 1991, and 15 percent for years after 1990) of the "old-law" contribution and benefit base. Tables showing the range of special minimum primary insurance amounts and corresponding maximum family benefit amounts are available for 1973 and later. Portal to U.S. government agencies Privacy Policy  | Website Policies & Other Important Information  | Site Map
Last reviewed or modified Thursday Oct 29, 2009
Need Larger Text?