What Social Security Retirement Benefits Are Available?

Presented by David Corwin

Almost everyone in the United States who is employed or self-employed is covered by Social Security, which pays benefits to or on behalf of covered workers who retire, become disabled or die, assuming that eligibility requirements are met.

Retirement Benefits

Eligibility: To qualify for monthly Social Security retirement benefits, you must be fully insured which, for most workers, means that you must have 40 quarters of coverage at retirement.

Benefits: Social Security retirement benefits are based on your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which, in turn, is based on your earnings history (your “Average Indexed Monthly Earnings”). When you retire and begin receiving Social Security benefits, your spouse is entitled to a benefit equal to 50% of your PIA beginning at his/her normal retirement age. A spouse eligible for retirement benefits based on his/her own work record will receive the higher of those benefits or spouse benefits based on your work record. In addition, any of your children under age 18 (19 if in high school), or of any age if disabled before age 22, are also entitled to a benefit equal to 50% of your PIA. The total benefits that all members of your family can receive based on your earnings record, however, is limited to a Maximum Family Benefit.

Normal Retirement Age: The normal retirement age for full Social Security benefits is age 65 for people born before 1938. For those born between 1943 and 1954, it is age 66. Full retirement age is gradually increasing to age 67 for those born after 1954.

Early Retirement: A permanently reduced Social Security benefit can be taken at any time between age 62 and your normal retirement age. Your spouse can also elect to receive permanently reduced benefits as early as age 62, unless caring for your eligible child. In this case, no reduction is made based on the spouse’s age.

Late Retirement: If you delay receiving Social Security benefits beyond your normal retirement age, your benefit will be increased by a percentage factor for each year you wait, up to age 70.

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