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What Are Social Security Benefits?

What are Social Security Benefits?

 
 
Most people consider Social Security benefits to be simply supplemental income during retirement. However, there are other benefits that you or your family members may receive. The official name of the Social Security system is the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program (OASDI). As the name implies, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays out benefits for more than just retirement.
 

Social Security Disability Benefits

 
Even if you haven’t reached retirement age, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA has requirements for income, work history, and permanent medical disability status. If meet these standards, you are likely eligible to receive monthly Social Security benefits. These payouts should be about equal to what you would receive if you waited until retirement age to start drawing on your benefits.
 

Dependents Benefits

 
If you are receiving either retirement or disability benefits, your family members may qualify for benefits too. Your spouse, minor-aged children, or disabled children may be eligible for dependents benefits. Their payouts depends on your lifetime earnings, as reported to your SSN. Same-sex spouses can qualify for benefits as well. However, they must reside in a state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.
 

Retirement Benefits

 
To qualify for retirement benefits, you need to have paid into Social Security. You also typically need to have worked non-government jobs for a total of at least 10 years. This entitles you to retire at 62, or any age after, and begin receiving retirement benefits. However, you may want to wait until you are between 65 and 67 to start drawing on Social Security. You will qualify for more benefits at full retirement age. All the way up to age 70, the longer you wait to start receiving benefits, the higher your payouts will be. However, in some cases, it may still make more sense to begin drawing early and take a lower payout.
 

Survivors Benefits

 
If you qualify for benefits and pass away, your dependents may still receive benefits. Your surviving spouse and any disabled children or children under the age of 18 can qualify for survivors benefits. Like dependents benefits, their payout depends on your total lifetime income. Same-sex spouses only qualify if same-sex marriages are officially recognized in your state.
 
Except for disability benefits, your Social Security benefits may be taxable, depending on your income. Low-income individuals and couples may qualify for tax-free benefits. As one of the goals of Social Security is to assist in keeping retirement-aged people out of poverty. Your benefits depend on your lifetime income, as reported to the IRS. So, you should make sure that your earnings are reported and you are paying into Social Security. Any unreported and untaxed income is not taken into account when determining your benefits.
 

Replace Your Social Security Card

 
Before looking for your Social Security Benefits, you will need to make sure to have your Social Security Card ready. Losing your card is pretty common, it happens to all of us at least once!
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