Interesting Facts about Social Security Benefits
For many Americans, Social Security benefits will make up more than 50% of their income after retirement. Despite this, not many of us understand how the Social Security program works. The rules and regulations can be confusing, especially when you are trying to figure out the age when you become eligible for benefits. Well, here are a few interesting facts about Social Security benefits that will hopefully give you a better understanding of the system.
Social Security benefits amounts are affected by the number of years you work
The Social Security Administration uses a formula that decides what your Social Security benefits amount should be. This formula involves taking all your earnings in past years and adjusting them to reflect growth in wages that reflect what that amount would be worth in today’s dollars. The SSA will take the best 35 years of your career earnings to calculate this number so that you get the highest possible payout once you retire and claim Social Security benefits. But there’s a problem. Not everyone manages to work for 35 years or more. So, if you haven’t worked for 35 years, the remainder of those years are averaged out at $0 earnings. Which means the amount of your earnings will reduce, sometimes dramatically.
You need to have worked at least 10 years to claim Social Security benefits
To qualify for Social Security benefits, you need to earn work credits. As of 2018, you get award one work credit for every $1,320 you earn. However, you can’t be awarded more than four work credits a year. Every year, the amount of money you need to earn changes to reflect wage growth. And you need to have at least 40 work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. This means you need to work a minimum of 10 years to be able to qualify for the program.
You can claim Social Security benefits on your spouse’s work record
Even if you aren’t eligible for your own Social Security benefits, you may be allowed to claim Social Security from your spouse’s work record. Here are the instances that you may claim benefits on your spouse’s work record:
- If your spouse is still alive, you’re still married, you’re more than 62 years old and your spouse is already getting either retirement or disability benefits from the SSA.
- If your spouse has died and you’re 60 years old or older, you will receive survivors’ benefits. However, if you are disabled, then you would be eligible for survivors’ benefits by the age of 50. You are also allowed to claim survivors’ benefits if you are taking care of a minor or a disabled child.
- If you were married for at least 10 years before you divorced, you can claim Social Security benefits. You can claim these benefits even if your ex has remarried – just as long as you did not remarry.
If you are confused about your Social Security benefits, it would be advisable to speak to a financial advisor who has experience in Social Security claims.