Qualifying and Filing for Social Security

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As part of its obligation, the government must ensure that its people are secured and contented. Hence, it implements policies and programs geared towards achieving security.

One way to address this is through social security. Social security is a program that pays retired, sick and disabled individuals. However, most benefits under this system require the claimants to have worked and paid into the social security system.

Most people think that Social Security is only a retirement program. While it is true that most people receiving Social Security receive retirement benefits, many others receive benefits because they are:

  • disabled;
  • sick;
  • a wife/husband of someone who gets a Social Security;
  • a wife/husband or a child of a worker who died; or
  • a dependent parent of a worker who died.

Depending on one's circumstances, any one may be qualified for Social Security. In fact, the program gives more benefits to children than in any other government programs.

How to qualify for Social Security

Since you pay your taxes while working, you earn Social Security "credits". Usually, most people need 40 credits which is equivalent to ten years of work to qualify for benefits. The amount of money required to earn one credit increases annually. Younger individuals require fewer credits to be eligible for disability benefits or for family members to qualify survivor benefits when the worker dies.

Social Security benefits restore a percentage of your income when you retire, become disabled or die. A Social Security Statement will be sent to you every year. The statement will show your income history and an approximation of the retirement, disability and survivors benefits you and your family may collect based on those earnings.

The moment you receive the statement, you must check your income history carefully. Be sure that all of your earnings are correct. Make sure that you report any errors as quickly as possible. Reporting any errors is vital as your benefits will be based on your lifetime earnings. The Statement is also useful to help you plan the financial aspect of your future.

Filing for Benefits

The benefits provided by the SSA could only be claimed when one asks for it.

An applicant may file a claim for benefits at a local Social Security office, by phone or through SSA's website. There are claims, however, that require at least one visit to the Social Security office to accomplish.

To apply for benefits, you must show proof of age, citizenship and identity. The applicants are required to submit various documents and records necessary for verifying the claim.

Usually, application is made three months before you want to receive the benefits.

The benefits provided under the SSA may be complicated but consulting a Social Security lawyer would make it easy.

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