Who do Social Security benefits support?

There are a few different kinds of Social Security benefits available today. Of them, retirement benefits are probably the best understood, while the payments made to children or the disabled are less commonly discussed.

Social Security is not just for retired workers, although it's presented as if it's a kind of retirement fund. Social Security is actually there for disabled individuals, children, widows and widowers and others. Children, for instance, may be entitled to benefits if a parent is killed or suffers a disability. The children and surviving spouse may both be entitled to that compensation.

Even if a parent only retires, children may be entitled to Social Security benefits if they're under 18. Children can receive up to half of a living parent's retirement or disability benefits. Children may receive up to 75 percent of a deceased parent's benefits, comparatively. Depending on the number of children left behind by a deceased worker or disabled parent, there may be an overall cap on how much is paid out.

If you're the survivor of someone who suffered a disability that lead to death or a deceased person, you may receive up to 100 percent of your spouse's full retirement benefits if you wait until retirement age to claim it. You can take a reduced benefit as early as 60 if you are not disabled and as early as 50 if you are disabled.

As you can see, it's not just an injured worker who benefits from Social Security. If you have questions about applying, your attorney can help you navigate the process.

Source: AARP, "Understanding the Different Kinds of Social Security Benefits," Stan Hinden, accessed June 23, 2017

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