Social Security benefits are based on average lifetime earnings and the amount of time you've worked, rather than financial need. Social Security benefits may be paid upon retirement, disability, or death provided you have earned enough Social Security credits to qualify.
Disability and Medicare
Besides retirement income, Social Security also pays disability benefits to those who cannot work due to physical or mental problems. These benefits are available to you at any time if you have earned enough credits. In addition, family members such as a spouse or children may be eligible for benefits in the event of your death. This is known as a survivor benefit.
In general, people over 65 who qualify for Social Security benefits also qualify for Medicare, as do those who have been getting disability for at least two years.
How it's calculated
At retirement, your monthly Social Security benefit is based on the period of your past work history in which you made the most money. Your monthly benefit comes from a formula using your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). At present, retirees can expect to earn about 40% of their annual average lifetime earnings in Social Security benefits each year. Benefits may be adjusted each year to keep up with inflation.
Social Security benefits are progressive. People who earn less have a greater percentage of their wages returned to them through Social Security benefits compared to higher wage earners.
For more information
Social Security is one of the most important programs in the fight against elderly poverty. It also provides important family protection through its death and disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has calculators that can help you estimate your future benefits on their website.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed mailings of benefit statements at five-year intervals to workers who had not signed up to view their statements online. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60.
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