There are 3 Social Security retirement benefits in the US. The most familiar is the monthly benefit paid to eligible retirees who earned sufficient work credits to qualify, and who have reached retirement age.
Social Security full retirement benefits begin at different ages depending on the year of birth, with later birth years starting at later ages.
Examples below, read on...
For example, those born before 1937 receive full benefits at age 65, but those born in 1943 through 1954 receive them at age 66.
Those with birthdays in 1956 receive full benefits at age 66 and 4 months.
Each year after that the age is later until 1960 when full retirement age is 67.
Early benefits are available on a reduction schedule beginning as early as age 62.
The percentage of the full benefit amount increases the closer you get to full retirement age.
Chart Source: ssa.gov
The next well-known social security retirement benefit is the Medicare health coverage that begins at age 65 for those who have applied on time. Medicare includes hospital coverage, medical coverage, options for coverage provided by private companies, and prescription drug coverage.
The 3rd retirement benefit applies only to low income retirees with limited resources, and is called supplemental security insurance, SSI.
This benefit is not paid from the Social Security Trust Fund but is paid from the US Treasury general funds and is a limited pool of money. States can add to this benefit.
More information is available at ssa.gov.
At the Social Security website (ssa.gov) you can find out how to apply for benefits, what you are or will be eligible for, as well as proof of income statements for retirees. Also, at this site you can change your payment delivery methods and sign up for direct deposit.
Apart from retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration also provides benefits to the disabled and survivors of the disabled.
For retirement benefits, you must have earned 40 credits, or 4 credits per year for at least 10 years.
The benefit amount is based on your earnings record. The more you earn as a worker, the more you will receive in retirement income.
(For disability benefits before retirement age, the earning credit requirements are lower and based on age.)