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Social Security: Basic Information

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Social Security: Can I get it now? 

Social Security: What is it exactly?

social securitySocial Security benefits are only available after you have worked a certain number of years.  Your eligibility for Social Security is measured in credits.  Individuals born after 1929 must accumulate 40 credits or work for 10 years to qualify.  You can earn one credit for each quarter for the years you have worked. 

When can I begin to receive Social Security? 

Social Security benefits may be received as early as the age of 62. You will need to think about this quite a lot, as your payments will be higher if you wait for a longer period of time before you begin to receive them.  When you decide you want to start drawing benefits, you should contact your local Social Security office and ask which month is best for you to start receiving your benefits. Depending upon when you decide to start receiving benefits, you may get a higher payment if you may have earned an additional work credit for the additional time spent on the job. The full retirement age is 65 for individuals born before 1938 and up to 67 for those born after 1960. Also, if your spouse is currently receiving benefits and you are over the age of 62, you may also be eligible to receive some of your benefits as well.  The amount available at that time is usually half of what your spouse receives.

Social Security: How do you apply?

In order to apply for Social Security benefits, you will need the following documentation:

  • your birth certificate;
  • your Social Security number;
  • your military discharge papers if you were in the service;
  • your spouseís birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is also applying; and,
  • your bank account number and the name of your bank, in order to deposit your payments

Whenever you apply for Social Security you must bring the original documents or send certified copies.  Yearly summaries are sent to notify you of your benefit amount, if you choose to check on your benefit prior to retirement.  You can sign up to receive this summary automatically by mail on a yearly basis if you wish. You should check with your local Social Security office for information on how to sign up by looking for their number in the government pages of your local telephone book or online at

Social Security Benefits Calculator: 

Your Social Security benefits are determined by your average earnings during your lifetime.  To calculate your benefits, you may use the online calculators at:  

Information from Seniorís Rights by Brette McWhorter Sember 

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist  Ph.D Candidate - Clinical Director Senior Care Psychological Consulting


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