Eligibility for Social Security benefits depends on several factors, including:
- Prior receipt of social security benefits
- Number of marriages
- Marriage status (at time of filing)
- Payment of U.S. social security taxes
- Current or former government employee
- Citizenship (i.e., U.S. Citizen, American Indian, Non-citizen lawfully admitted to the U.S.)
- State and location of residence (e.g., private residence, nursing home, jail/correctional facility)
- Current disabilities or illnesses
How Much Social Security Benefits Am I Entitled To?
The amount of social security benefits that you are entitled to does not depend on your financial needs. Instead, it is based on the amount of income that you have earned in the years that you have been working.
The Social Security Administration keeps records of all your years of employment and pays benefits based on the average amount you have earned.
When Can I Start Collecting Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Administration used to believe that 65 years of age was considered to be the full retirement age for the retirement benefit. Benefit amounts were calculated on the assumption that most employees will stop working full time and want to claim retirement benefits when they are 65.
However, since many want to work instead the full retirement age has gradually been changing from 65 to 67 for people born in 1938 or later. For anyone born after 1960, the full retirement age has changed to 67.
What Are Possible Reasons Why I Was Denied Social Security Benefits?
The reasons for a denial of benefits depend on which type of benefits you were trying to get, such as:
- Retirement benefits - You do not meet the minimum age requirement OR you indicated that you have never worked in a job where you paid U.S. Social Security taxes
- Spouse or divorced spouse - You do not meet the minimum age requirement OR you were never married
- Surviving spouse - You do not meet the minimum age requirement OR you were never married OR you remarried before reaching age 60
- Child - Your parent is not deceased or receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits OR you are over age 18 and you are not in high school and you are not disabled
- Disability - You are over full retirement age OR you indicated that you are not disabled OR you indicated that you have never worked in a job where you paid U.S. Social Security taxes
- Supplemental Security Income - You are not 65 years of age OR you are not disabled or blind OR your income or assets are above the SSI limits OR you are not a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted non-citizen OR you do not live in the U.S. or the Northern Mariana Islands OR you live in a jail or correctional facility
- Medicare - You are not 65 years of age or receiving Social Security disability benefits
Can I Keep Working and Collect Social Security Benefits?
Yes. Many people who are past the full retirement age and are eligible to collect social security benefits may work and earn any mount without losing their social security benefits. However, before you reach your full retirement age, Social Security will subtract money from your benefits check if you exceed a certain amount of the earned income for the year. So generally there is a limit on how much you can earn while you are collecting social security benefits.
Can I Collect More Than One Type of Social Security Benefit?
No. Even though there are several types of social security benefits such as disability and retirement, you may qualify for more than one type of social security benefit, but you may only be allowed to collect one of them. For example, you may be eligible for both disability and retirement Social Security benefit, but you are allowed to collect only one of the benefits.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Get Social Security?
The laws that regulate 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 administrative law attorney also can help you if you need to appeal a denial of social security benefits.