Retirement benefits describe financial security setup to support an individual who has left the workforce. Social Security benefits are an integral part of many retirement plans. When someone retires, monthly Social Security payments may be one of their sources of income.
Retirement benefits are based on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings equal to higher benefits. If there were some years that you did not work or earn an income, your social security benefits would be lower than if you worked steadily.

How Do I Qualify for Retirement Benefits?

When person works and pays Social Security taxes, they earn “credits” toward their Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need to get retirement benefits depends on when you were born. If the person stops working before they have gained enough credits to qualify for retirement benefits, the credits will remain on their Social Security record and when they return to work later on, more credits will be added to their benefits.

How Much Money Can I Expect When I Retire?

How much money you can expect when you retire is based primarily on two factors:

  • Earnings – The Social Security Administration (SSA) will average one’s earnings over their career to determine what they are entitled to. The size of their benefits will depend on how much they earned while working.
  • Age – The earliest someone can begin drawing retirement benefits is 62. The longer they wait to take retirement benefits, the more they will receive.

Will My Retirement Date Determine How Much I Am Entitled To?

Yes. The SSA has classified retirement benefits into three general categories:

  • Full Retirement – If a person waits until their full retirement age to begin taking benefits, they will receive the maximum payments available. What age they qualify for full retirement benefits will be determined by what year they were born. Currently, the full retirement age ranges between 65 and 67.
  • Early Retirement – If a person chooses to retire between age 62 and their full retirement age, their benefits will be permanently reduced. The reduction is based on the number of months until that person reaches full retirement age. The reduction ranges between 7 and 30%.
  • Delayed Retirement – If a person decides to work past their full retirement age, they can increase their Social Security benefits. Not only are they increasing their earnings, but the SSA will also increase benefits by a certain percentage for each additional year a person works beyond full retirement age.

Can I Find out How Much I Am Expected to Receive When I Retire?

Annually, the SSA will send every worker, 25 or older, an earnings statement. The statement will calculate your expected retirement benefits. You can also create a Social Security account if you are age 18 or older, have a social security number, and have a valid U.S mailing address. Once you have access to your online Social Security account, you may be able to view your Social Security Statements and get your retirement benefits estimates.

What Are the Retirement Benefits for my Family Members?

If you are getting Social Security or retirement benefits, some members of your family can also receive retirement benefits including:

  • Spouses age 62 or older
  • Spouses who are under age 62 who are taking care of your child age 16 or younger or disabled.
  • Former spouses age 62 or older if they qualify
  • Disabled children even if they are older age 18
  • Children up to the age of 18 or up to 19 if full time students not graduated from high school.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The laws that regulate retirement benefits and social security are very complex and confusing.  An experienced administrative law attorney can help you understand which social security benefits you should be receiving.  An experienced government law attorney can also help you if you need to appeal a denial of social security benefits.