Social Security supplements your income with monthly payments that are based on your highest 35 years of earnings and when you choose to start receiving benefits. While working, you pay Social Security taxes that will later allow you to receive benefits once you retire.
The minimum Social Security retirement age is 62 years old. However, the full retirement age is 66 if you were born between 1943 and 1954 or 67 if you were born 1960 or later. The full retirement age for individuals born between 1955 to 1960 gradually increases by the year. If you choose to retire later than your full retirement age, you can receive a higher amount of benefits up to age 70.
As of 2023, the minimum Social Security retirement benefit you will receive is $49.40 (with at least 11 years of work) or $1,033.50 (with at least 30 years of work – the full minimum primary insurance amount). In addition to your work history, your benefit amount is affected by:
- Your Social Security retirement age
- Certain pensions, such as for employment that didn’t pay Social Security taxes
In most cases, you can receive Social Security and pension income without reducing your Social Security benefits. You can view the Social Security estimator on the Social Security Administration website to estimate what your benefits will be.
Additionally, you may qualify for additional cash assistance through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This low-income program provides additional monetary benefits to qualifying individuals receiving Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance. The amount you may receive depends on your income, resources, and the state you live in.
If you have reached the Social Security retirement age, you can apply for benefits online, by phone, or by visiting your local Social Security office. If you choose to apply for benefits in person, you can call ahead to schedule an appointment. Regardless of how you apply, you will need to provide information and documentation that will support your application, including:
- Your personal information, including date of birth and your Social Security number
- Proof of age
- Proof of U.S. citizenship if you were not born in the United States
- A copy of your United States military service papers, if applicable
- A copy of your tax forms or return from the last year
After you submit a Social Security application, you will be contacted if the SSA has any additional questions. Then, you will receive a letter by mail regarding the Social Security Administration’s decision on your application. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal. Appeal requests must be made within 60 days of receiving your Social Security decision letter.