“Social Security” is the catch-all term used to describe benefits paid out by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Aside from retirement benefits, the SSA makes payments to disabled individuals and eligible widows, widowers and dependents.
Social Security is a federal insurance program founded under President Roosevelt as part of the New Deal in 1935. The program has accumulated extra benefits over the years, such as survivors and disability insurance. Currently, Social Security makes payments to around 65 million retirees, disabled individuals, survivors and dependents.
Social Security programs are funded by taxes levied on workers and employees. The money goes into two Social Security trust funds:
The SSA pays out four main types of benefits, each with its own eligibility criteria and payout levels.
When you think of Social Security, you probably think of retirement benefits.
Your retirement benefit is the monthly paycheck you receive when you retire. To qualify, you need to pay into Social Security for at least ten years. (11 to qualify for the special minimum benefit paid to long-term low-income earners.)
The amount you receive depends on:
The SSDI program pays benefits to workers with qualifying physical or mental medical disabilities. To be eligible, you’ll need to meet conditions regarding how long and recently you’ve worked and paid into Social Security.
The SSI program is separate from other Social Security programs. These benefits help cover living expenses for elderly or disabled individuals with limited income and resources. In some cases, you may qualify for both SSI and Social Security benefits.
The SSA pays survivor’s benefits to the widows/widowers and dependents of eligible beneficiaries. The deceased must have worked long enough to be eligible for benefits. Typically, surviving spouses must be 50+ and disabled or over 60. Surviving spouses with disabled or minor dependents may also qualify.
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