Social Security Questions And Answers

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General

Question: I worked for the last 10 years and I now have my 40 credits of coverage for Social Security. Does this mean that I get the maximum Social Security retirement benefit?

Answer: No. While eligibility for benefits is based on having 40 credits, the amount of your benefit is based on how much you earned over your lifetime. We determine your average earnings over your working years and use a special formula set by law to determine your benefit amount. For most people their benefit amount is an average of the highest 35 years of earnings.

Retirement

Question: What percentage of a worker’s benefit may a spouse be entitled to?

Answer: A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker’s benefit if the spouse retires at full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, those benefits will be reduced by a percentage based on how much earlier the spouse retires.

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits, a spouse gets full spouse benefit (one-half of the worker’s benefit) regardless of age.

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefit first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you’ll receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefit. Learn more at www. socialsecurity.gov.

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