Understanding the US social security system can be trying to say the very least. The first step that you need to take is to arm yourself with all the information that you need in order to understand social security and its applications, then you will be able to evaluate how it fits into and affects your future. The following should help you to better understand the sometimes confusing environment surrounding social security and will give you some things to consider as you plan for your future.
What is Social Security and How do you get it?
Social security is a fund that many people pay into through deductions (taxes) taken off their paycheck. This is only true for those who are working jobs that qualify for social security, which an estimated 96% of the American workers are. The resources are then pooled together and you may apply for support from them when you either retire or are no longer able to work due to a disability or illness. This seems like a good time to mention that there are indeed three types of benefits included under the social security umbrella. They are:
- Retirement benefits
- Survivor benefits
- Disability benefits
If you would like more information on the qualifications for each type of benefits see the social security administration’s (SSA) page here.
In order to receive benefits you need to complete an application form, which is now available online, and then you wait. The SSA will evaluate your claim based on the information that you have provided and in about 5 months you will see a payment if you qualify. There are some exceptions to this wait time.
How much Money can I Receive?
The amount of social security that you can receive is based on many factors. These factors include:
- How many years you have worked in qualifying positions
- The amount of money accrued at those jobs
- And if you are retiring, your age
The simple way to put it is that the more years you devote to working the more finances you will stand to receive. If you are curious about the amount that you will or could receive, try using an online disability calculator, or retirement calculator to get an estimate.
What is the Current Outlook on the Social Security System?
The economy has been a fickle mistress lately and the downturns have definitely made their mark. This coupled with the fact that more baby boomers are getting set to retire and a few other factors mean that resources are being consumed at a higher rate. This means that there could essentially be less money to go around. It has been said that there will likely not be any noticeable changes within the next decade, but beyond that, there is some uncertainty. Your best bet is to plan for your retirement or an accidental injury that may leave you out of the work force. At this point, what the future holds is anyone’s guess, as the economic landscape can be very unpredictable. If you are truly concerned, need to apply for benefits now, or just want more information seek out credible counsel in order to help you plan or apply.