What is Social Security & Who Qualifies for Benefits?

February 4, 2020

Social security is a system many of us are familiar with in name but could, perhaps, stand to know more about its ins, outs, and who is affected. Today, we’re shedding light on the social security system and how it touches the lives of Americans nationwide.

Social security basics

Social security is an economic insurance system designed by the government to assist with and ensure financial security for those who may not be able to work. The umbrella of those unable to work includes survivors (widows, minors, dependent parents, and step-family members), retirees, and disabled peoples.  This program was signed into law on August 15, 1935 by President Roosevelt as a part of the New Deal act.

The below digs deeper into how-to & who qualifies for social security benefits:

  • Survivors — Survivor benefits include those who are directly related to someone who has passed away. As mentioned previously, this includes widowed spouses, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children. The details of how you qualify can get quite specific so you’ll want to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to inquire about your specific case.
  • Disability — Typically, if you’re unable to work because of a medical condition that will limit your working ability, could lead to death within twelve months, and have not been denied social security disability benefits within the last 60 days, you can apply and may be eligible for disability benefits. With the agency, you’ll discuss the details of your medical condition and how it is hindering you from working. The SSA has created an Adult Disability Checklist to assist in completing your application.
  • Retirement — Perhaps the most well-known sector of social security is the retirement system/program. Retirement benefits for you or your spouse begin following your 61st year and eight months. To qualify for this benefit, you must be “full retirement age”, amongst other qualifications. Some retirees choose to strategically retire as delaying retirement can increase your eligibility for higher benefits. Regardless of the age you choose to retire, you must be paying for at least 10 years prior to age 62.

What is a social security number?

Investopedia describes social security numbers as nine-digit numbers that are issued by the government to all U.S. citizens and eligible U.S. residents who apply for one. This number is tied to your life’s income and the years you’ve worked, too. This same number plays a role in determining your eligibility for benefits. Since it’s inception, the usage of social security numbers has stretched to more things concerning your personal finance like opening a bank account, applying for a passport, getting a driver’s license, and buying a home.

If you are a person eligible for a social security number or already have one, you’ve likely been issued a social security card that has your number on it. Best practices for this card is to not have it in your possession day to day as this number is the key to your very personal and sensitive information.  Unless you need the card that day, it’s best to keep this document and any documents that have this number, in a safe and secure place.

 Social security is a government institution that allows for the stability of those who are unable to work. It’s a system that empowers people at any age and ability status. More equipped with this knowledge, you can make better choices to stay financially prepared in the event of eventualities like loss or aging.

As you continue to bolster your retirement knowledge, be sure to do your own retirement planning that doesn’t bank on government systems staying the same over the course of your life. Moreover, the more financially prepared you are, the more easily you can rest and live your life stress-free.

The best time to plan for retirement is right now!

If you haven’t started this process, take a look at our Ultimate Retirement Checklist, and get started today!

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