While most people may associate Social Security benefits with retirement, the Social Security Administration actually pays out five different types of benefits. These include retirement as well as disability, dependents, survivor, and supplemental security income benefits. All of these benefit types are related to the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Read on to learn more about the five types of social security benefits.

The Four Types of Social Security Benefits

1. Retirement

The Social Security Administration offers retirement benefits to people aged 62 years or older who have worked for at least ten years. The exact benefit amount depends on the individual’s pre-retirement salary, as well as the age at which they begin to collect benefits. 

Depending on the birth year, there is an age between 66 and 67 at which people are considered to have reached “full retirement age.” Taking benefits before this age permanently decreases them for the duration of retirement. Taking them later than the full retirement age, however, will increase monthly benefits. 

While Social Security is not intended to be a retired person’s only source of income, it can be helpful in avoiding debt during retirement. 

2. Disability

Social Security disability benefits are intended to support people who are unable to work because of a disability. Similarly to retirement benefits, an individual must have worked for a certain number of years in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The exact number of years required varies depending on age. The exact monthly benefit amount varies depending on the individual’s pre-disability salary.

3. Dependents

The spouses of retired or disabled workers who qualify for Social Security retirement or disability benefits may also be entitled to benefits. This applies whether or not the spouse is actually financially dependent on the worker.

Spousal benefits are available who people aged 62 years or over, or those who are taking care of the worker’s child aged 16 years or under. They are based on the worker’s earnings record.

Minor children, and older children who became disabled before the age of 22, can also collect dependent benefits based on the worker’s earnings record.

4. Survivor

Survivor benefits are intended for the children, divorced spouses, and widows or widowers of deceased workers and retirees. The exact amount of survivor benefits is dependent on a number of factors including:

  • The worker’s age at death
  • The worker’s salary
  • The survivor’s age
  • The survivor’s relationship to the deceased

There is also a one-time “death benefit” payment of $255 that goes to the deceased worker’s spouse or children.

5. Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are intended for people who are unable to earn sufficient wages on their own. To be eligible, people must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Being an adult with a disability
  • Being a child with a disability
  • Being 65 years old or older

Individuals with sufficient work history may be eligible for SSI benefits in addition to retirement or disability benefits. The exact monthly amount varies based on the individual’s other sources of income and home state.

Receiving Social Security Benefits

Social Security offers essential help to American citizens who need financial assistance in supporting themselves and their families. If you find the system confusing or need help navigating it for whatever reason, you may appoint a representative such as an attorney. They will be able to assist you with things like:

  • Obtaining your medical records
  • Gathering any information that could support your Social Security benefits claim
  • Retrieving relevant information from your Social Security file
  • Submitting requests for reconsideration, appeals, or requests for review if your claim is denied
  • Accompanying and representing you at interviews, conferences, and hearings
  • Appearing on your behalf at interviews, conferences, and hearing
  • Helping you and your witnesses prepare for hearings
  • Questioning other witnesses

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