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You’ll be eligible for something, as long as you've worked for at least 10 years. Specifically, you accumulate credits based on your earnings. In 2014, you get one credit for every $1,200 you earn(that figure is adjusted higher each year), up to a limit of four credits per year. These credits remain on your record even if you change jobs or stop working for a while. Anyone born after 1929 is eligible for Social Security benefits after accumulating 40 credits (those credits make you eligible for Medicare, too, once you turn 65).

You can check out your Social Security statement anytime by going to the Social Security website. The statement contains a record of your earnings history, the number of credits you've accumulated to date, and an estimate of the retirement benefits available if you wait until full retirement age. You can also estimate your benefits by using the SSA's online calculators and/or worksheet. The younger you are, the less accurate your estimate will be, because your as-yet-unknown future earnings will play an important role in all of this.