Social Security: 4 Things You Should Know About It

Social Security

Social Security is one of the most important programs in the United States, and everyone must understand how it works. Social security has been an integral part of the United States since 1935. It’s a social insurance program that provides benefits to individuals and families in the event of death, disability, and retirement. Here are four things you should know about Social Security.

1. Legal Implications Of Social Security

Typically, it can be difficult to legally qualify for social security. To receive benefits from the program, you must have worked a certain number of years in your lifetime. You can also qualify under your spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) work history if they worked for at least 10 years and are eligible to receive retirement or disability benefits. 

However, children may be entitled to benefits based on their parent’s Social Security record if the child has a disability that began before age 22 or is still disabled by age 18 (or younger). To see all of the requirements and consider the legalities of social security, you can consult with the attorneys at for more help. Everyone has a different amount that they can receive from Social Security and it depends on your average income throughout your lifetime, as well as how much you paid into the system over the years. 

Everyone who pays the social security tax is entitled to benefits; if you’ve never worked or you don’t have enough work history to be eligible for social security, then there are other programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that could assist you. 

2. The History Of Social Security

Social Security was originally called the “Old Age Survivors Insurance.” Some believe that this name better reflects what the agency does – however, since its inception in 1935, the agency has gone through several name changes as well as expansions. In 1939, coverage was expanded to include the survivors of a primary worker and in 1956, disability insurance was added for those that became disabled before turning 22 years old or were still disabled past age 18.

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Today?

The federal government has several different programs that qualify for benefits under Social Security, including social security disability insurance (SSDI) and old-age retirement. To be eligible for Social Security of any kind, you must work in the United States. This applies to citizens of other countries who are currently working in the U.S., or even illegal immigrants if they worked during their time in this country. You must also pay taxes on your income while you are working; part of your income is withheld towards Social Security payments automatically, so no additional money will need to be paid by you later when it comes time to collect your benefits.

3. Disability Insurance

The most common reason for receiving social security benefits is due to one becoming disabled (32 percent). Retirement benefits make up about 38 percent of all monthly claims, followed by children’s benefits at 17 percent and widows/spouses at eight percent. Each category represents about a quarter of all annual benefit payments from the program which totaled $836 billion in 2011. Additionally, it is estimated that over 10 million people are currently receiving disability benefits.

Disability Insurance Requirements

To receive disability benefits, you must be between the ages of 18 and 64 (inclusive). There is no age requirement for dependents; however, they must qualify through their parent’s work history. To receive benefits, your disability must prevent you from performing “substantial gainful activity” and be expected to last at least 12 months or end in death.

4. Medicare Covers Retirement Benefits

Many think that once you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, your medical insurance will no longer be covered. This is not true since 1998 when the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was passed by Congress. Under this act, seniors who were at least 65 years old could receive both their Medicare Part A (which covers hospital stays) as well as their Social Security retirement benefits without paying additional premiums for at least part of those benefits. 

Although it’s unclear whether or not this changed other rules regarding social security payments before medicare became available to retirees, it should be noted that all widows/widowers can also receive both of these types of benefits. Retirement benefits make up 38 percent of all monthly social security claims and two-thirds of annual benefit payments totaling $700 billion. The system currently has over 40 million beneficiaries that are retired workers or their spouses/children/survivors. As people continue to live longer, these numbers will only continue to increase.

Retirement Benefits Requirements

To receive retirement benefits, you must be at least 62 years of age. Retirement benefits are calculated based on the 35 highest-earning years in which you had the most income. For ease of calculation, these years are assumed to be consecutively earned before you claim them. The amount that individuals can receive depends upon their age when they claim benefits and their level of income during their career. 

Additionally, spousal/survivor’s benefits are available if the primary worker claims before full retirement age (FRA). At FRA, an individual is entitled to 100 percent of his or her monthly benefit; however, beginning at that point until age 70 (when it reaches its maximum), each month’s check will be reduced by five-ninths of one percent for each month that they claim their retirement benefits before reaching age 70. To receive spousal/survivor’s benefits, you must be at least 62 years old or disabled and the spouse or widow/widower of a deceased person who claimed social security before full retirement age. 

Under this system, the survivor benefit is equal to 100 percent of the deceased’s benefit amount or 82.5 percent if claimed early (before FRA). This percentage will remain fixed regardless of whether the worker continued to work past his or her FRA since all potential future benefit increases are based on prices instead of wages which do not change over time.

Social Security is a very important program in the United States and everyone must understand how it works. Many people depend on these benefits, so it’s essential to know your rights and obligations when it comes to this program. 


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