basics of social security

The Basics of Social Security: Key Takeaways You Need to Know

In June 2020, about one in six Americans collected social security benefits — that’s more than 64 million people.

You’ve heard of social security, of course. But without any experience in the government-led program, you are unfamiliar with how it works or what its benefits are.

Learning the basics of social security will paint you a clearer picture of all that this system can provide you. Here’s what you need to know.

The Basics of Social Security

The social security program came into existence on August 14, 1935. Then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, designed to protect the American worker who could no longer earn a paycheck.

So, social security provided payments who reached retirement age. But it also helped those who got injured on the job, those who couldn’t work because of physical disabilities, and dependent children and mothers. On top of that, social security gave help to the unemployed.

Nowadays, social security maintains these missions with modern implementations, of course.

When Can I Claim Social Security?

For roughly 82 percent of those on social security, retirement marks the moment they will claim social security.

In most cases, you can claim social security at the age of 62. However, you should think about the pros and cons before applying for your social security checks prematurely. The government will slash your payments by 75 percent if you get your monthly installments before reaching retirement age, and they won’t bulk up your amount once you are old enough.

The government’s deemed retirement age gradually rises with time, as per federal legislation passed in 1983. Those born between 1955 and 1959 can apply for their social security benefits at 66 and 2 months of age. For those born in 1960 or later, retirement age is 67.

What About Non-Retirement-Age Claimants?

Of course, social security isn’t just for the country’s retirement-age workers. Disabled workers and dependents make up 18 percent of social security claims. Three percent of claimants are young survivors who depended on now-deceased workers.

Sometimes, you’ll have to make a case for your social security claim. A lawyer can help with the process — check out the law offices Of Blitshtein & Weiss, P.C., or find an attorney local to you to get started.

How Much Money Do I Get From Social Security?

Social security laws dictate how much you’ll receive from the government.

As previously mentioned, those who retire at 62 will have their social security benefits cut by three-quarters. Those who wait to reach their government-deemed retirement age can get the full check. But you can make even more from social security if you wait to claim until you’re 70 — the government will increase monthly checks if you put off the first few years of payments.

It’s up to you to decide when’s the right time to apply. And your work history will determine how much money you get in your checks. The government will use your highest salary out of your 35 years of work to figure out your payment — so, sometimes, working a few more years past 62 or even 66 can push you into a higher pay bracket.

As of 2019, the maximum amount a social-security beneficiary could receive was $2,861 monthly.

Claim Your Social Security

The basics of social security only scratch the surface. There’s so much to learn about this government program — and so much to gain from it, too. So, brush up on your knowledge so that when the time comes, you’re ready to make your claim at the right moment.

And, if you need help along the way, be sure to check out our directory of lawyers in your area who can help you.

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