As a senior, you want to ensure you have enough money to live comfortably and afford retirement expenses, and the Social Security program can help with that. To introduce you to the program, our team at Broadmoor Court senior living community created this guide to help you understand what benefits are available.
Social Security is a program that provides financial support for seniors and other people in the United States. On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, establishing the program. Today, one in five Americans receives Social Security benefits, and 51 million of them are retired workers and their dependents. The Social Security Administration is responsible for managing the program and issuing payments.
The primary source of funding for Social Security is a payroll tax. Nearly everyone who works for an employer in the United States has this 6.2% tax deducted from their wages, and employers must also pay a matching tax on their employees’ salaries. Self-employed individuals pay into Social Security through the 12.4% self-employment tax.
There are five main types of Social Security benefits:
The eligibility requirements for Social Security differ from benefit to benefit. Since this guide is for seniors, let’s take a look at the requirements for the three main types of monthly benefits that people over the age of 65 may receive.
There are two eligibility requirements for retirement benefits through Social Security:
If your spouse meets the eligibility requirements but you don’t, you may qualify for retirement benefits through them. In addition, Social Security may also provide a monthly benefit for retirees’ children if they're minors, aged 18 or 19 but still attending elementary or secondary school, or any age with a qualified disability.
To qualify for Social Security Survivor benefits, your spouse must have previously worked and paid into Social Security. How much money you receive will depend on how long they worked and how much they paid in taxes. You'll need to provide proof of your marriage and your spouse’s death, as well as other documentation during the application process.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income as a senior, you must be at least 65 years of age. In addition, you must qualify as low income.
As of 2023, a single person is considered low income if they earn less than $1,913 per month from wages and less than $934 per month from pensions and gifts. The limits for married couples are $2,827 from wages and $1,391 for pensions and gifts.
Eligibility also depends on the total value of resources you own. Some things the Social Security Administration takes into account when calculating resources include:
In 2023, a single person's resources must total less than $2,000, and a married couple’s total resources must be less than $3,000.
There are three general ways to sign up for Social Security benefits:
Which application methods are available depends on which type of benefits you’re applying for:
To receive Social Security benefits, you must sign up for direct deposit. The Social Security Administration no longer mails paper checks to benefits recipients.
If you have a checking or savings account, you can provide the routing and account number and the money will be sent there each month. Another option is to sign up for a Direct Express Debit Mastercard. When you select this option, the money gets credited to an account attached to the card. You can then use it to make withdrawals at an ATM or present it as payment for purchases anywhere that accepts Mastercard credit cards.
Once you've been approved for Social Security benefits, you can set up your direct deposit online or by calling 1-800-333-1795.