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Social Security

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a federal program that includes retirement benefits, health insurance assistance, disability and survivor income, and more.

  • Social Security is a program run by the Social Security Administration that is available to eligible Americans and qualified noncitizens.
  • Retirement benefits are one of the largest functions of Social Security.
  • Eligibility requirements vary by program. Retirement benefits require a minimum of 10 years of labor in the workforce. You must also be at least 62 years of age before you can collect benefits.

One of the largest Social Security programs is retirement benefits, which are a crucial piece of retirement income for many recipients.

Eligibility for retirement assistance through Social Security involves accumulating 40 Social Security credits, each of which represents a certain amount of earnings ($1,640 in 2023). Up to four credits can be earned each year, so at least 10 years of employment are required. Your monthly payment is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, and also on the age you file to receive benefits. The minimum age to start claiming benefits is currently 62, but if you file before you reach full retirement age (currently between 66 and 67, depending on year of birth) you won’t receive the full benefit. On the other hand, for every month after your full retirement age, up to age 70, that you postpone filing, your eventual benefit will increase by two thirds of a percent. These age milestones may adjust as life expectancies in the U.S. change.

Social Security also includes survivor benefits. When the immediate beneficiary dies, eligible family members may receive the benefits in their place.