Social Security benefits are available to most people who work in the United States. Social Security retirement, disability and dependents benefits are available to workers who have paid into the system — but only if you’re disabled, retired or caring for a child or other dependent. If you’re employed, you may be able to receive some benefits for a limited time while continuing to work. However, several rules apply in this situation. Your monthly benefit amount is based on your earnings in jobs covered by Social Security. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees these programs, funded by payroll taxes paid by employers and employees.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the most common type of disability benefit. To qualify for SSDI, you must be unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment that has lasted at least one year or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. You must also have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security’s “substantial gainful activity” rules — which vary by age — to qualify for payments. Your income or assets also play a role in determining whether you are eligible for SSDI payments.
If you’re eligible for SSDI payments and are still working, there may be ways for your employer to help offset the cost of any employee contributions that would otherwise be deducted from your paycheck.
If you have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for retirement benefits, you’ll receive either a monthly check or an annual lump sum payment when you reach full retirement age (FRA). FRA is 65 for people born before 1938 and gradually increases to 67 for those born after 1959.
If you qualify for retirement benefits before FRA, you will get reduced monthly payments that increase with each month that passes until you reach FRA. They’re available to spouses and children under 18 years of age — up to an annual limit set by Congress — and may be payable until age 18 if a child is disabled.
If you’ve worked for a long time and paid into the Social Security system (or if your spouse worked), you can receive a pension when you retire. The amount you receive is based on how much money was in your account, employer contribution and other factors.
If you become disabled before reaching FRA and cannot continue to work in jobs covered by Social Security and if your condition is expected to last more than one year or result in death, you may be eligible for disability payments. You must have worked at least five of the last ten years before becoming disabled (or having a disability that began before age 22).
If you suffer an injury or illness that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability insurance benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You must have worked long enough and paid enough into the Social Security system to qualify for an SSDI benefit. You must have worked enough quarters (and earned enough money) under Social Security-covered employment to be eligible for benefits.
Survivor benefits for spouses, children and parents of deceased workers
The Social Security Administration pays survivor benefits when someone who has been paying into the system for many years dies. These include payments to spouses (including divorced spouses) and dependent children dependent on the deceased worker’s income before their death.
There are many good reasons to work while you still can, even part-time. For example, some people enjoy what they do and don’t feel like working. In other words, not everyone will have to “work” once they retire, they may naturally keep busy with fun hobbies and activities that they used to love doing anyway.