Social Security's retirement program has been a basic part of American life for more than 65 years. In a nutshell, a small amount is taken out of each of your paychecks. Over the years, you save up more money and earn 'credits'. Then after you retire, these savings are paid back to you, depending on how many credits you earned.
Your Social Security benefits are the foundation on which you can build a secure retirement. The three major elements of your retirement portfolio are benefits from pensions, savings and investments, and Social Security benefits. Most financial advisors say you'll need about 70% of your pre-retirement earnings to comfortably maintain your pre-retirement standard of living. If you have average earnings, your Social Security retirement benefits will replace only about 40%. You'll need to supplement your benefits with a pension, savings or investments.
In addition to benefits for retired workers, Social Security also provides financial support to younger workers and their families who face a loss of income due to disability or the death of a family wage earner. Contact the nearest Social Security office if:
- You have a disability/injury, preventing you from working for at least a year or that may lead to death.
- You are planning to retire and are within three months of 62.
- You are NOT planning to retire, but you are within three months of your retirement age.
- A family member who is a worker dies.
- You or a dependent require a kidney transplant or dialysis treatments.
Keep in mind that most of the time, benefits cannot be paid retroactively. Social Security is your money - take care of it if you want to enjoy your retirement!
Contacting Social Security
- Call the toll-free number, 800-772-1213.
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the toll-free "TTY" number, 711.
- Call or visit your local Social Security Office.
- If you live outside the United States, see http://www.ssa.gov/foreign/.
Also see: Special Military Social Security Rate