Which Benefit Programs Does Social Security Offer?

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(DailyTreasure.com) – You probably associate Social Security with retirement benefits for seniors, but there are actually three different programs that can provide financial support in different circumstances. Understanding when you qualify for retirement benefits, SSI, and SSDI means you’ll be aware of these programs and ready to apply for them when you need them.

Retirement Benefits

Social Security Retirement benefits are available for anyone 62 and older who worked and paid into the program for at least 10 years. While you’re working, you’ll pay 6.2% of your earnings up to a certain maximum as part of your regular tax obligations, and your employer will pay another 6.2%. If you’re self-employed, you’ll pay the full 12.4% yourself. If you’re married and only one spouse works, the non-working person can get a portion of their spouse’s benefits during retirement.

While you can choose to start receiving Social Security benefits as soon as you turn 62, you’ll receive smaller payments than if you wait until your full retirement age. This will be between 66 and 67, depending on the year you were born. Your Social Security retirement benefits are calculated using both the amount you paid in and the age when you begin claiming benefits. The older you are when you begin to receive benefits, the more you’ll receive each month.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is designed to provide additional support for low-income people who are blind, have a disability, or are 65 and older. The maximum monthly SSI payment is $914 for an individual, though the exact amount you receive will depend on your income, living situation, and the state where you live. To qualify for SSI, you need to earn less than the monthly income limit, which is $1913 per month for individuals in 2023. There’s also a limit to the resources you can have, like cars or savings. You can’t have more than $2000 as an individual or $3000 as a couple to qualify.

Certain government benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Section 8 vouchers, do not count toward the income limit. Expenses required to work with a disability, such as special transportation services, are also exempt from the income limit. Your home and one vehicle for your household don’t count toward the resource limit. Because SSI is intended to be a supplemental form of income, you can work or receive disability benefits, though this will lower your payments.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) supports people who are permanently disabled and unable to work. To qualify for SSDI, you need to have paid into Social Security by working for a certain amount of time and be currently unable to work for a year or more because of your disability. Generally, you’ll need to have earned 40 credits, which is the equivalent of 10 years of full-time work. However, if you’re younger, the credit requirements are adjusted.

SSDI uses a strict definition of disability for applicants. You’ll need to be unable to continue with the work you were doing previously and unable to switch to another type of work. The program keeps a list of qualifying conditions. If you have a disability that isn’t on the list, it will perform a detailed review of your medical records. Your benefits will depend on your income history and how long you worked before becoming disabled.

Social Security isn’t just for retirement. The agency also provides disability benefits and supplemental benefits for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. While the requirements to qualify for these benefits can be a bit complicated, being familiar with the basics will prepare you to apply if you need assistance.

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