A person is only eligible to collect a special minimum Social Security benefit after he has at least 11 years of coverage, according to the Social Security Administration. Social Security benefits are determined by an individual's primary insurance amount, or PIA, and retirement age.
The primary insurance amount is calculated using the average indexed monthly earnings, or AIME, of the person receiving benefits. Dollar amounts in the PIA formula change from year to year and are determined by the year a person became eligible for benefits. The AIME is determined by an average of at least 35 years of indexed wages. Benefit amounts are decided based on PIA, but reduced benefits are given to those individuals who retired before normal retirement age.