Title II of the original Social Security Act of 1935 established a national plan designed to provide economic security to the country’s workers. The program has since changed. Social security is financed through a special payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2% of wages up to the taxable maximum of $147,000 (in 2022), while the self-employed pay 12.4%.
Social Security (SS) is part of the retirement plan for almost every American worker. It provides replacement income for qualified retirees and their families. This article provides an overview of the information that can be found on the website. Visit ssa.gov for more information and how to sign up.
SS income is based on your highest income of age 35 and varies depending on how much you earn and when you choose to start benefits. The money you pay in taxes is not in a personal account that you can use when you receive benefits. Your taxes are used to pay people who are now receiving benefits. In the early 1950s, the average American lived 68 years and retirees were supported by 16 active workers. Today, the average life expectancy is in the mid to late 1970s and only three workers support each retiree.
How to qualify?
When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” for SS benefits. The number of credits you need to receive retirement benefits depends on when you were born. Born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits or 10 years of work.
How much will it be?
It is based on how much you have earned during your working career. The age at which you decide to retire also affects your benefit. The earliest age is 62 and the benefit is lower than if you wait.
The age to receive full SS benefits is again based on the year of birth.
Early retirement benefits at age 62 would be about 30% lower than at age 67.
You can choose to continue working after your full retirement age. This can increase your future SS benefits in two ways. Additional years of work will be added to your SS income record. Your benefit will be increased by a certain percentage from the moment you reach full retirement age until you receive a benefit or until the age of 70. For example, if you were born in 1943 or later, 8% will be added to your benefit for each full year that you delay receiving SS benefits after full retirement age.
When to apply?
You can request this up to four months before you want to start your pension.
Spouses who have never worked or are on a low income can get up to half of a retired worker’s full benefit. A dependent child can receive benefits up to half of the full benefit of a retired employee. The child must be unmarried and meet one of the following conditions: 1) under the age of 18; 2) 18-19 years old and a full-time student (not higher than grade 12); 3) 18 years or older and a qualifying disability developed before the age of 22.
There is a maximum benefit amount for family benefits.
SS survivor benefits are paid to widows, widowers and dependents of eligible employees. The benefits are based on the income of a deceased employee. The deceased must have worked long enough to be eligible for benefits. There is a one-time payment of $255.
You can create a My Social Security account at ssa.gov/myacount to get an estimate of your personal retirement benefits. You will need your SS number, a valid US mailing address, and an email address.
On ssa.gov, you can find information and publications, view answers to more than 200 frequently asked questions, and apply for benefits.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can request reasonable accommodation for an upcoming appointment by calling 1 (800) 772-1213 or 1 (800) 325-0778 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM hour. Be prepared to wait. The local office does take appointments.
Albuquerque Office: 500 Lead Avenue SW Suite 100
Rio Rancho Office: 4433 Jager Drive NE
Scammers can call to get your SS information. SS will generally not call you unless you have requested the call. Scammers can threaten or ask for payment. Report fraud to OIG.SSA.gov.
There is a wealth of information on the ssa.gov website. Whether you’re just starting work or nearing retirement, consider visiting the site to learn more about the program.