Social Security payments are almost a general part of retirement; around 90% of retired Americans of age 65 and older earn these benefits. It makes up a huge part of many older Americans’ income. The SSA (Social Security Administration) pays billions of dollars each month to retirees, disabled workers, and also their family members. But first, you need to know what are social security benefits and how do you know whether you qualify for them or not.
By comprehending how social security benefits are calculated and paid out, you could be eligible for more than you imagine.
Regardless of you are receiving benefits or will receive them in the future, it is crucial to know as much as possible about social security benefits so that you know how much you need to save and when to file.
How Social Security Works?
Social security is a government program that gathers taxes from Americans who are working and distributes these funds to qualifying retirees, disabled workers, and their families to assist them to remain financially secure.
To being qualified for social security, a worker usually should earn 40 credits, however, if they die or are disabled young, they could qualify with fewer credits.
You can demand social security according to your own work record, when you have received adequate credits, or can be eligible to demand spousal benefits according to your current or ex-spouse’s work record if this credit is more than what you are entitled to, on your own. In certain situations, dependent children and family members might also qualify for family benefits.
You require filling out an application online or at your local Social Security Administration office when you are ready to apply for social security. The information in your application will be verified by a government representative to determine whether you qualify, and then you will start receiving monthly checks.
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Types of social security benefits
Three main types of social security exist:
- Retirement benefits
- Survivors benefits
- Disability benefits
Workers of age 62 and older who have received at least 40 credits are eligible to receive social security retirement benefits. The amount of your benefit checks depends on your AIME over your 35 years of highest-earning, and the age when you start benefits.
To claim your standard benefit based on your AIME, you need to wait until your full retirement age (FRA). If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66 and is 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
In case you start claiming at 62 while your FRA is 67, you will receive only 70% of your standard benefit and in case your FRA is 66 you will get only 75%. Your checks will increase slightly by every month you delay benefits until you reach the maximum benefit at 70. If your FRA is 67 and you wait until 70 you will receive 124% of your standard benefit and if your FRA is 66 you will receive 132%.
Certain family members could demand benefits on your work record, in case doing so would give them more money than they are eligible for on their own work record. Eligible family members are as follows:
- Ex-spouses, if the marriage lasted for a minimum of 10 years and they did not married again
- Children under 18, or up to 19 if they are still enrolled in high school
- Children of any age who were disabled under 22
Spouses and ex-spouses should be at the age of at least 62 in order to demand benefits.
Survivor benefits are for the qualified deceased workers’ family members.
Surviving spouses in the age of 60 or older (50 or older if disabled) can demand benefits. Also, surviving spouses of any age can claim benefits if they are caring for the deceased worker’s child who is disabled or under 16. It is also applied to the ex-spouses of the deceased worker if their marriage lasts at least 10 years and the ex-spouse did not married again.
Adults in the age of 18 or older who are unable to work because of a mental or physical disability that is anticipated to last at least 12 months or cause death are eligible to receive social security disability benefits. Depends on your age at the time of your disability, if you have not earned 40 credits, you are still eligible. The benefits will be calculated based on the person’s average lifetime earnings; therefore a disabled person who earned more when they were working would get large disability checks.
While applying, you need to provide the government with information about your medical condition and your working history, containing related documents. In order to decide on your eligibility, the Social Security Administration will review your case. You will get a disability check for the rest of your life or as long as your disability lasts, in case you are nominated as eligible. Otherwise, you can request reconsideration or appeal to an administrative law judge.
Following family members can demand benefits on a disabled worker’s work record:
- A spouse 62 or older; a spouse of any age in case of caring for a disabled worker’s disabled child or child 16 or younger
- Ex-spouses who were married to the disabled worker for a minimum of 10 years and did not married again
- Children of any age who were disabled under 22
- Unmarried children up to 18, or 19 if still attending high school.
Social Security provides benefits to almost 65 million people, and the monthly checks it paid out to retirees or disabled people aid them to maintain healthy finance.
It is crucial to calculate how much you will receive, which benefits you are eligible for, the best time to claim your benefits, and how much money you will need each month to live, in case you think Social Security benefits will be an important part of your retirement plans. Preparing yourself with knowledge is a great step to making smart decisions about your benefits.
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NB: The purpose of this website is to provide a general understanding of personal finance, basic financial concepts, and information. It’s not intended to advise on tax, insurance, investment, or any product and service. Since each of us has our own unique situation, you should have all the appropriate information to understand and make the right decision to fit with your needs and your financial goals. I hope that you will succeed in building your financial future.