Social Security Benefits

Social Security Benefits explained! Discover how benefits work with Medicare in our helpful, 2019 Social Security Guide.

social security benefits explained

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Social Security Benefits include;
Retirement Benefits
Disability
Medicare (Part A & B)
Survivors
Supplemental Security Income
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Maybe you’ve heard some information about Social Security Benefits from family and friends but what exactly are Social Security Benefits anyway and how does it fit within Medicare Insurance benefits? We consolidated and simplified all the important details for you by answering common questions to help save you time, money and energy!

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Last Updated: 10/2/2019

What is Social Security?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has created the Social Security Program formally called OASDI (which stands for; Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) which is a US Government based program, enacted in 1935 that offers a basic floor of protection to eligible working Americans.

“How does one judge the justness of a society? One test is its willingness to provide its citizens with a floor of protection against the financial loss that often accompanies death, disability or old age – events beyond peoples control.” (FL225).

There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around Social Security and its benefits for one’s individual financial plans. This misinformation has led to unrealistic expectations because the program is intended to only provide a “floor of protection” and does not replace a good insurance plan. Social security only augments an insurance plan and is actually an entitlement program not a welfare program. Americans must meet basic eligibility requirements in order to receive program benefits.

Many senior Americans, expect Social Security to provide all their financial needs. Sadly, when it’s too late, they find that the income is insufficient for even basic needs.

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How does Social Security work?

Every employed or self-employed American (with few exceptions), are extended social security coverage. The program is funded by a payroll tax named Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA for short. In order to receive benefits, a person must have contributed to the program during their working years.

Now there is a real difference between being “covered” and being eligible for social security benefits. If you are actively paying taxes into FICA, then you are covered but that doesn’t mean you are eligible for benefits. “Insured Status” is a key phrase which denoted a person as either being fully insured or currently insured. Fully Insured, provides a worker and his/her family with full retirement and death benefits (survivor benefits) while a currently insured status, receives partial or a limited amount of benefits. This is determined by a rating system known as “quarters of coverage”.

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How do I get full Social Security benefits?

In order to obtain full Social Security benefits (ie: Fully Insured) it depends on two things:

  1. Beneficiaries Age (Generally, 65+).
  2. One must earn a total of 40 credits which equates to 10 years of paying taxes (basically, 4 credits per year).

If a person did not obtain the total 40 credits over his or her entire working life, he/she would receive partial credits hence the term, “Currently Insured” status. They would have needed to earned 6 credits during the 13 quarter period – ending with the quarter in which the worker died. Sound confusing? Basically, just make sure you work at least 10 years to obtain your full benefit.

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How are Social Security benefits calculated?

Social Security Benefits are based on a workers earnings over their working years. There is an inverse relationship between how much taxes are paid, to the benefits earned, which is assessed by a “maximum taxable wage base”. Therefore, if a person earned more in a lifetime above the wage base, the less benefits received. A person who earned less lifetime income would receive more benefits. Interestingly, Medicare (Government funded senior health insurance) is not subject to the maximum wage base (wage cap) which in 2017 was $127,000. Moreover, no matter what you earn, you will always pay into Medicare because it’s mandated by the Federal U.S Government.

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How much Social Security income do I have?

In order to determine how much Social Security income you have, you would need to obtain a Benefit Verification Letter that details your monthly benefit amount. This is normally mailed but you can sign up for Social Security online.

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What are Social Security taxes?

The Social Security Program is a Pay-as-you-go system which means taxes today fund benefits today and any extra funds are held in a future account. A portion of the tax pays for OASDI (old age, survivor and disability) benefits. The other portion funds Original Medicare Insurance mainly, Part A and Part B and some subsidy for privatized, Medicare Advantage.

For more information on benefits including; death benefits, retirement benefits, and disability benefits for workers, spouses, children and more, visit the social security website or your social security office near me today.

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What is a Social Security number?

A Social Security number is a unique 9-digit number “…for the sole purpose of tracking the earnings histories of U.S. workers, for use in determining Social Security benefit entitlement and computing benefit levels.” (SS). Normally, U.S. residents are issued a SS number when opting-in to the birth registration form or if generated automatically.

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How do I apply for a Social Security number?

A Social Security number is a unique 9-digit number “…for the sole purpose of tracking the earnings histories of U.S. workers, for use in determining Social Security benefit entitlement and computing benefit levels.” (SS). Normally, U.S. residents are issued a number when opting-in to the birth registration form. You can also get a Social Security replacement card by completing an Application for a Social Security card but first review the Social Security documents you need.

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How do I report death of Social Security or Medicare recipients?

The Social Security Administration Office processes death reports for Seniors. In order to report a senior death, provide the deceased person’s Social Security number to the Funeral Director to make the report of death. You can also contact the local SS office or call 1-800-772-1213 to file a report for the deceased.

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Where is the Social Security login?

To log into mySocial-Security visit the Sign-in page.

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In Conclusion

Social Security is paid into by every working American in the form of tax dollars today to fund benefits today. In order to obtain a full insurable status one must work 40 credits or 10 years approx. full-time. One of the offices that Social Security funds is Medicare Insurance. Social Security is not to be 100% relied upon for retirement funds but sadly many misconceptions have caused a stable reliance on the program making it difficult for millions of Americans to retire sufficiently. Get the Top Questions about Social Security and more Social Security FAQ’s.

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