In 2014, Social Security is expected to pay $863 billion in benefits to more than 59 million Americans. The government agency plays a vital role in the livelihood of so many individuals, but the complexity of the rules governing the program’s benefits remains a major source of confusion. For many, Social Security is synonymous with retirement benefits. It is not unusual for a person to be unaware of other categories of benefits such as disability, dependent’s, and survivor’s benefits. Knowledge about Social Security benefits can be empowering during inevitable periods of life transition.
At Santa Barbara Estate Services, we understand the complexities of large government agencies such as the Social Security Administration. This is why we proudly offer assistance with navigating government benefit programs. We hope that this basic information about Social Security benefits will prove to be helpful to you and your family.
As we work and pay into the Social Security system (via FICA taxes), we earn ‘credits’ or quarters of coverage toward Social Security benefits. A worker can earn up to 4 credits per year. A worker must have earned at least 40 credits to become eligible for Social Security benefits. Though the full retirement age for benefit entitlement is increasing (age 67 for people born 1960 and later), a person can still elect reduced benefits as early as age 62. Keep in mind that, if benefits are claimed prior to full retirement age, a person must be at least partially retired and have earnings below Social Security’s mandated earnings limit for the year.
There are many myths and points of misunderstanding regarding the Social Security disability program. What conditions are likely to qualify a person for disability benefits? Is there an age limit for disability benefits? These questions and more are often asked by individuals trying to grasp a better understanding of Social Security disability. In general, a personal must have a mental or physical condition that is expected to keep him or her from performing substantial work for at least a year. For clarification, a worker who has had to stop working due to illness does not have to wait a year before filing for benefits. If the condition is expected to prevent substantial work for at least one year, the worker can contact Social Security to file a claim for disability benefits at the time that work is discontinued.
Benefits for Dependents
Social Security has several categories of benefits for the dependents of a retired or disabled beneficiary. Children under the age of 18 can become entitled to benefits on the record of a parent who receives retirement benefits, disability benefits, or who is deceased. Spouses may also receive similar categories of dependents’ benefits.
The death of a loved one is certainly a challenging life transition that involves a great deal of grief and stress. Having to navigate various government agencies and other business entities during such a time can be made even more trying when there is limited knowledge about these organizations and agencies. Much like dependent’s benefits, survivor’s benefits are paid to surviving spouses (widows/widowers) and minor children.
When it comes to dealing with Social Security, knowledge is power. We hope that you will contact us so that we can assist you with finding the answers to your Social Security questions.