Elder individuals are entitled to receive social security benefits upon turning the age of retirement, which is anywhere between 62 and 67 years of age, depending upon your circumstances and the year that the elder individual was born. Unfortunately for most retired workers the social security money received each month is not enough to live on. Currently, the maximum social security benefit that a retired worker may receive is $1,825 per month at age 65.
A disabled individual may also apply for social security disability benefits if the individual is disabled and unable to work in any capacity.
Eligibility for Social Security
Social Security retirement benefits are based upon the income that the elder individual earned during their lifetime. A record of each individual's earnings is kept by the Social Security Administration, provided a minimum number of work credits have been accumulated. Only income on which social security tax is paid is considered in calculating these work credits.
Retirement is defined as whenever the elder individual chooses to begin receiving their social security benefits after reaching the age of 62. If the elder individual has earned enough credits then he or she may be able to begin receiving social security benefits. The elder individual does not have to actually stop working in order to be eligible for benefits. However, if the elder individual has not yet reached the age of retirement, he or she may only be entitled to a reduced amount of benefits depending upon the amount of income that they are currently earning. Additionally, the elder individual may stop working entirely and still postpone receiving social security retirement benefits
Benefits to Spouses and Children
Benefits may be provided to the elder individual's spouse, ex-spouse or dependent children or grandchildren in addition to the elder individual. The spouse is entitled to one-half of the amount of benefits received by the elder individual. The spouse must be 62 years of age or caring for a child under 16 years of age. The elder individual must be receiving their benefits in order for the spouse to receive her benefits.
Dependent children or grandchildren who are not married may also be eligible to receive benefits. Generally, children or grandchildren will be eligible to receive up to one-half of the amount of monthly benefits.
A divorced spouse may also be entitled to receive benefits if the spouse was married to the elder individual for at least 10 years. The divorce must be final for a period of at least two years and the divorced spouse must be at least 62 years of age.
Taxation of Social Security Benefits
Generally, social security benefits are not taxable. However, if the elder individual has a substantial income then they may be required to pay taxes on the benefits.
Death of Beneficiary
If the elder individual dies and the spouse has reached her full age of retirement, the spouse may begin to receive the benefits. The spouse will only receive the elder individual's benefits and will not additionally receive her own.
In order to be entitled to the benefit check for the previous month the elder individual must live for the entire month. If the elder individual dies before the end of the month, the social security check issued for that month must be returned.
Copyright 2007 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.