Learn About Social Security Benefits

Are you interested in learning about Social Security benefits? Perhaps you are nearing retirement age, disabled, or married to someone who may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits.

In any case, it is important for you to have all of the information necessary to get your funds when you need the most. Increase your knowledge regarding eligibility requirements, benefits and how to apply for Social Security. Once you have a good understanding of that information, you can more successfully pursue and receive the benefits you are entitled to.

At first glance, the Social Security system may seem complex and daunting. However, with proper research and preparation, understanding and receiving Social Security benefits will be much simpler. There is a lot of important information that should be understood before you attempt to apply for Social Security in order to have the process be less time-consuming and smoother. If you are interested in learning more about the Social Security system, eligibility and how to apply, you will want to read the sections below.

What You Need to Know About Social Security Benefits

Currently, the Social Security system in the United States functions like this: when you are employed, you pay taxes on each paycheck and those funds go towards the Social Security system. That tax money is then used to pay out the Social Security benefits of current beneficiaries.

It is a common misconception that the Social Security tax money that you pay is exactly what you will receive when you are eligible. Instead, that tax money goes to:

  • People who have already retired.
  • People who are disabled.
  • Survivors of workers who have died.
  • Dependents of Social Security beneficiaries.

Another misconception is that Social Security Income benefits are utilized solely by retirees. The Social Security system is not just a retirement plan. It is true that many of the beneficiaries are retired, although there are many other types of beneficiaries as well. The other people who may receive benefits include those who are disabled, a spouse or dependent of a beneficiary, or even a divorced spouse of someone who died or is eligible for Social Security.

While age may be a factor in some situations, there are many circumstances that merit the administration of Social Security benefits at any age. In fact, it should be noted that the Social Security system provides more benefits to children than any other governmental benefit program in the United States.

As of right now, out of every Social Security tax dollar, 81 cents go toward a trust fund that pays monthly benefits to both surviving spouses and/or children of workers who have died and also to current retirees. The other 19 cents go toward a trust fund that pays benefits to disabled beneficiaries and their families.

Learn About Requirements for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Eligibility to receive Social Security benefits is based heavily on earning Social Security credits. Presently, those credits are earned one at a time, and each is earned when a certain amount of money has been paid in Social Security taxes from paychecks. At the current time, one credit is earned for each $1,320 paid in earnings. However, this amount of money generally increases each year, so it is always important to stay aware of what the current amount is. Also, it should be noted that a maximum of four credits can be obtained each year.

Most people need 40 credits in order to be eligible for benefits. Although, younger people may need fewer credits in order qualify for disability Social Security benefits. In addition, the family members of a worker who has died will likely need fewer credits in order to receive the benefits.

You can still work and be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Also, if you are unable to work because of a physical or mental condition that is expected to last longer than a year or is expected to result in death, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Age is a factor in most situations regarding Social Security income benefits for retirees. This is because reaching a certain age before retiring and claiming benefits will result in a different benefit payout. If you opt to retire when you reach your full retirement age, you will be able to receive your full benefit amount. However, retiring before you reach your full benefit age will result in a reduced benefit amount.

The full benefit age gradually increases from 66 years of age to 67 years old for those who were born from 1943 to 1960. For example, if your birth year is anywhere from 1943 to 1954, you have a full retirement age of 66. That gradually goes up to 67 years old for those who were born in year 1960 or later.

How to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Once you have decided that you would like to receive Social Security benefits through retirement, you must start the application process four months before you would like to have your benefits officially start. If you are interested in applying for disability or survivor’s benefits, you must apply as soon as you become eligible.

The application can be completed a few different ways. If you have access to the internet and feel comfortable applying online, you do have an option to complete a Social Security benefits application online. If you do not want to complete an online application for benefits, you can either apply through the phone or by visiting your local Social Security office.

The application for Social Security benefits will require certain documentation to be provided. The type of documents that you will need will vary depending on the type of benefits you file for. A few of the documents you may need when applying for benefits includes, but is not limited to:

  • Your Social Security card
  • Your birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or other lawful immigration status
  • Birth certificates and Social Security Numbers for any applicable family members
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Military discharge paperwork, if applicable
  • Most recent W-2 form, or tax return

Having a good understanding of how the Social Security system works before beginning the process can save you a lot of time and prevent you from experiencing stress as well. If you are prepared ahead of time, and understand how and when to apply, you are more likely to experience a smoother and more successful process.

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