Social security pays benefits to nearly 65 million people in the United States. It is the primary source of income for a quarter of the 65 million beneficiaries, and more than half of social security recipients depend on it for at least half of their income. Social Security also is credited with keeping a third of older Americans from falling into poverty. With such an enormous financial impact on people’s lives, it is no wonder that so many people have questions about Social Security. 

Contrary to popular belief, social security is not just for retirees. They make up about three-quarters of social security recipients. The remaining quarter consists of spouses, ex-spouses, children, disabled workers, and survivors of the deceased. 

The earliest age you can receive social security benefits is when you are 62 years old. The full retirement age right now is considered 67. Keep in mind that your benefits will be reduced if you retire early. Delaying retirement will increase your benefit by 8% a year until you reach 70, when the financial incentive for delaying retirement ends. 

There are several ways to apply for Social Security benefits. It can be done online or over the phone. Additionally, applying for benefits can be done at Social Security offices. 

To be eligible to claim social security benefits, you must have worked for at least ten years. Social Security uses a system of credits earned by working and paying into the Social Security system. Up to four credits per year may be earned. A minimum of 40 credits are required to begin collecting social security. 

People can continue to work and collect Social Security benefits. There is a caveat, however. If you are below full retirement age (67 years of age for most people) and work, your benefits may be reduced if you earn more than a specified amount. Once you reach full retirement age, you can work and collect social security benefits with no penalty to your benefits. 

The amount of money you will receive from Social Security is based on several factors. Social Security takes your 35 highest-earning years, takes an inflation-adjusted average of that amount, and puts it into a formula. In addition to that formula, your retirement age will determine your benefit amount. As of 2022, the maximum monthly social security payment is $3,345, while the average is $1,657 per month.