How Do I Qualify For Social Security
To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, in most cases:
- You must be 62+ years old, or disabled/unable to work, and
- You must have sufficient credits earned throughout your working life.3
To qualify for Social Security spousal retirement benefits:
- You must be married to a retired worker , and
- You must have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in your care, or
- You are 62+ years old.2
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you are under the age of 62:
- You must be 18+ years old and unable to work due to physical or mental disability, and
- Your condition is expected to last at least a year or may result in death.3
You still can qualify for Social Security disability benefits without earning the required 40 credits, depending on the circumstances. Your lifetime earnings and benefits help determine your monthly disability benefit amount.
To qualify for Social Security survivors benefits:
- You must be a widow or widower who is 60+ years old , or
- You must be a widow or widower caring for the deceaseds child who is under the age of 16 or disabled, or
- You must be a surviving divorced spouse , or
- A dependent parent who is 62+ years old, or
- You must be an unmarried child of the deceased and are:Under 18 years old , or
- 18+ years old with a disability that occurred before you turned 22.3
Claim That Politicians Exempted Themselves From The Tax
Critics of Social Security have said that the politicians who created Social Security exempted themselves from having to pay the Social Security tax. When the federal government created Social Security, all federal employees, including the president and members of Congress, were exempt from having to pay the Social Security tax, and they received no Social Security benefits. This law was changed by the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which brought within the Social Security system all members of Congress, the president and the vice president, federal judges, and certain executive-level political appointees, as well as all federal employees hired in any capacity on or after January 1, 1984. Many state and local government workers, however, are exempt from Social Security taxes because they contribute instead to alternative retirement systems set up by their employers.
Do Undocumented Immigrants Receive Social Security
Undocumented immigrants are not legally permitted to receive Social Security benefits and few actually do.
Generally, when you apply for a job, you’re required to provide your Social Security number so employers and employees can pay the payroll taxes that are used to fund the program. Undocumented immigrants, who don’t have an Social Security number, may choose to use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an ITIN, or may even use a fake Social Security number to pay payroll taxes.
Even though undocumented immigrants are legally required to pay taxes, those who use an ITIN to do so cannot receive Social Security retirement benefits. Sometimes undocumented immigrants do receive retirement benefits by using a Social Security number that belongs to someone else, a fake one or one held over from an overstayed visa. However, even those who use a fake Social Security number may not receive retirement benefits since they don’t have tax forms that match up with an existing Social Security number.
A 2013 report by the Social Security Administration found that $1 billion worth of retirement benefits were paid out to undocumented immigrants in 2010. However, undocumented immigrants paid significantly more money into the Social Security system than they receive in benefits, contributing a whopping $13 billion in payroll taxes.
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Which Pays More Ssi Or Ssdi
The Social Security Administration provides two programs for those who are disabled: Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance . Those who qualify for disability benefits might wonder which one pays more.
First, lets talk about what SSI and SSDI cover. SSI benefits can provide extra money to low-income, low-asset adults and disabled children. SSDI is available for those who have earned Social Security-covered income and can no longer work.
Both SSI and SSDI can provide necessary income to those who need it. The amount that each pays depends on the individual.
Other Pensions Might Reduce Your Social Security Benefits
Your benefits will be affected if you have a pension from a job that didnt have Social Security taxes taken out of your paycheck. Common examples include people who worked for a public education system, railroad workers and Federal government employees hired before 1984 who are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System .
Two complicated provisions will affect your claiming strategy: the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset . The WEP reduces your own benefits by a discounted factor based on how many years you worked in jobs that did not withhold Social Security taxes. The GPO reduces your spousal and survivor benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your noncovered pension.
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Social Security Dependents Benefits
If you’re the spouse of a retired or disabled worker who qualifies for Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be entitled to benefits based on the worker’s earnings record. This is true whether or not you actually depend on your spouse for your support.
Spousal benefits are available for those who reach age 62 or are taking care of the worker’s child age 16 or under. Read about spousal dependents benefits here.
Minor children, and older children who became disabled before age 22, can also collect dependent benefits based on the worker’s earnings record. Read about child dependents benefits here.
Beware The Social Security Earnings Test
Bringing in too much money in earned income can cost you if you continue to work after claiming Social Security benefits early. With what is commonly known as the Social Security earnings test for annual income, you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you make over the earnings limit, which in 2022 is $19,560. Once you are past full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, and you can make as much money as you want with no impact on benefits.
Any Social Security benefits forfeited to the earnings test are not lost forever. At your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefits to take into account benefits lost to the test. For example, if you claim benefits at 62 and over the next four years lose one full years worth of benefits to the earnings test, at a full retirement age of 66 your benefits will be recomputed and increased as if you had taken benefits three years early, instead of four. That basically means the lifetime reduction in benefits would be 20% rather than 25%.
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Social Security Retirement Benefits
Workers who have worked in “covered employment” for a sufficient number of years are eligible for retirement benefits when they retire. Usually, you must work a total of at least ten years, either at a nongovernmental job, where you pay FICA taxes, or for yourself, paying self-employment taxes.
You may choose to begin receiving retirement benefits at any time after you reach age 62. But Social Security offers incentives to wait until your “full retirement age,” which is between 66 and 67, depending on the year of your birth.
If you begin claiming benefits before you reach full retirement age, Social Security will reduce the amount of your benefits by a certain percentage. As a further incentive to keep working, the amount of your benefits will be slightly, but permanently, increased for each year you wait until age 70 to put in your claim. But sometimes it doesn’t make sense to delay collecting your benefits . Also, no matter how long you wait to begin collecting benefits, the amount you receive will be only a portion of what you were earning.
How Do You Become Eligible For Social Security Benefits
To be eligible for Social Security benefits in retirement, you must earn at least 40 “credits” throughout your career. You can earn up to four credits each year, so it takes 10 years of work to qualify for Social Security.
In 2022, you must earn $1,510 to get one Social Security work credit and $6,040 to get the maximum four credits for the year. And yes, that means that it is possible to have money withheld for Social Security and never get it back. The minimum is the minimum.
Fact #: Social Security Is Particularly Important For People Of Color
Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including Black and Latino workers and their families, who face higher poverty rates during their working lives and in old age. The poverty rate among Black and Latino older adults is roughly 2.5 times as high as for white seniors. There is a significant racial retirement wealth gap, leading older adults of color to face more retirement insecurity than their white counterparts. Black and Latino workers are less likely to be offered workplace retirement plans, and they are likelier to work in low-wage jobs with little margin for savings. Social Security helps reduce the economic disparities between older white adults and older adults of color.
Applying For Social Security Benefits
Only general rules for applying for basic types of benefits are presented in this section. For more detailed information please visit the SSA website or contact the Federal Benefits Unit.
When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits toward Social Security benefits. You need 40 credits to qualify for retirement benefits unless you worked in a country that has a Social Security agreement with the U.S. Such agreement can help you if you have worked in both the United States and a country with which we have an agreement, but have not worked long enough in either country to qualify for Social Security retirement, disability or survivors benefits. Under an agreement, each country can count your work credits in the other country if this will help you qualify for benefits. Please go here to learn more about it.
Please go to our Totalization Agreements section to see if you can benefit from it.
Your benefit payment is affected by the age at which you decide to retire. If you retire at age 62, which is the earliest possible retirement age for Social Security, your benefit will be lower than if you wait until later to retire. This is explained in more details here
Benefits may be payable to the following dependents of the insured Wage Earner:
The following categories of survivors may be eligible for benefits on the deceased insured Wage Earners account:
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Dependant Parent Of A Worker Who Dies
If you are a parent of a worker who dies and you are at least 62, you may receive survivor benefits. You must be receiving at least half of your support from your child and you must not be eligible to receive a retirement benefit that is higher than the benefit allowable on your childs record. Further, you must not have married after your childs death.
Fact #: Social Security Is Especially Beneficial For Women
Social Security is especially important for women, because they tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions. Women represent more than half of Social Security beneficiaries in their 60s and 7 in 10 beneficiaries in their 90s. In addition, women make up 96 percent of Social Security survivor beneficiaries.
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The Four Different Types Of Social Security Benefits
All the years you worked, you put money into the Social Security system. After paying those premiumsthats essentially what those Social Security payments areyou should know what benefits are available to you. Read more
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There Are Social Security Survivor Benefits For Spouses And Children
If your spouse dies before you, you can take a Social Security survivor benefit. However, that wont be in addition to your own benefit. You must choose one or the other. If you are at full retirement age, that benefit is worth 100% of what your spouse was receiving at the time of his or her death .
A widow or widower can start taking a survivor benefit at age 60. However, the payment will be reduced because its taken before full retirement age. Theres a twist available assuming the survivor has benefits of their own available and hasnt already filed for them: Take the survivor benefits as early as possible, which is age 60, and switch to your own retirement benefits at age 70. Your survivor benefits will be reduced because you will have filed for them before your full retirement age, but your own benefits will grow, garnering delayed-retirement increases, until age 70. Online programs such as the one offered by Social Security Solutions can help you compare the cumulative benefits for each strategy to determine which one provides the highest payout.
Remarriage has implications here. If you remarry before age 60, you are not eligible for a survivor benefit. If you remarry after age 60, you may be eligible for a survivor benefit based on your former spouses earnings.
Eligible children who are under age 18 or were disabled before age 22 can also receive a Social Security survivor benefit. It would be worth up to 75% of the deceased’s benefit.
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Total Benefits Paid By Year
Workers in Social Security covered employment pay FICA or SECA taxes and earn quarters of coverage if earnings are above minimum amounts specified in the law. Workers with 40 quarters of coverage are “fully insured” and eligible for retirement benefits. Retirement benefit amounts depend upon the average of the person’s highest 35 years of “adjusted” or “indexed” earnings. A person’s payroll-taxable earnings from earlier years are adjusted for economy-wide wage growth, using the national average wage index , and then averaged. If the worker has fewer than 35 years of covered earnings these non-contributory years are assigned zero earnings. The sum of the highest 35 years of adjusted or indexed earnings divided by 420 produces a person’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME.
The AIME is then used to calculate the Primary Insurance Amount or PIA. For workers who turn 62 in 2021, the PIA computation formula is:
90 percent of the first $996 of average indexed monthly earnings, plus
32 percent of average indexed monthly earnings between $996 and $6,002, plus
15 percent of average indexed monthly earnings over $6,002
Monthly benefit amounts are based on the PIA. Once the PIA is computed, it is indexed for price inflation over time. Thus, Social Security monthly benefit amounts retain their purchasing power throughout a person’s retirement years.
Future Of Social Security
An increase in eligible participants combined with an increase in life expectancy is straining the Social Security program. Because of the financial burden this created, Social Security was amended in 1983, changing the age people can collect full Social Security benefits.
As a result of the 1983 amendments, the retirement age will increase between 2003 and 2026 from age 65 to age 67 with an 11-year gap at which the retirement age will remain at 66, depending on the year of birth.
Economic analysts predict that the Social Security system eventually will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. Analysts have long warned of this shortfall, and they predict the program could be in jeopardy as of 2035.
It is anticipated a reduction in benefits of about 13% or an immediate increase in payroll tax rate from 12.4 to 14.4%, or a little of both, will be needed to allow full payment of scheduled payments for the next 75 years.
As the challenges to meet the needs of millions of retirees continue, policymakers and politicians continue to argue about revamping or privatizing the program. The recent economic downturn has affected jobs and savings programs, further weakening the program. With so many people dependent upon Social Security for retirement benefits, its vital to understand the system and its limitations, as well as to make changes before time runs out.
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