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Preparing for the Future: Planning Your Social Security Benefits

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), around 52 million people receive social security benefits every month and of these beneficiaries, 36 million are estimated to be retirees. While the SSA offers financial assistance programs through the Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), by far, retirement benefits make up the majority of all social security benefits.

If you are thinking of retiring or are facing disability, you need to find out more about social security benefits and even the social security calculator to learn how you can live comfortably even after retirement or disability. These are what you need to know about social security benefits:

  • Social Security benefits are not a substitute for your lost wages when you retired or became disabled – this is only meant to replace a percentage of your earnings when you retire or become disabled.

  • Generally, to qualify for benefits, you would need as much as 40 credits (which is equal to 10 years of work). However, this may be waived -- fewer credits are needed to be eligible for disability benefits or for survivor benefits.

  • The decision when to retire is important in determining how much benefits you will receive. If you retire before reaching full retirement age (67 years old) your benefits will be reduced for the rest of your life as compared to receiving full benefits when you retire at the right age.

  • Disability benefits may be given to eligible employees who cannot work because of a physical or mental condition that is expected to last for at least one year or result to death.

  • The following are those who are eligible to receive benefits: retired employees, disabled workers, family of workers who died, and the dependents of the worker previously mentioned.

  • If you want to keep track of the benefits you expect to receive in case you retire, become disabled or die, check your annual Social Security Statement. This is usually sent to you by the SSA with details on your earnings history as well as estimate of benefits to be received.

  • You may also use a Social Security Calculator from the Social Security Administration to compute for your benefits.

Social security benefits are meant to be the safety net of you and your family in the event of your retirement, disability, or unexpected death. Understanding how much it can actually assist you in the future is important so you can undertake other steps to make sure that you have enough resources to meet your needs. You may also consult with a social security attorney to help you file claims or assist you in appealing your benefits.

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