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Some Facts About Social Security

About Social Security and Medicare
Social Security pays retirement, disability, family and survivors benefits. Medicare, a separate program run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, helps pay for inpatient hospital care, nursing care, doctors’ fees, drugs and other medical services and supplies to people age 65 and older, as well as to people who have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or more. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you may want to consider options for private insurance. Your Social Security covered earnings qualify you for both programs. For more information about Medicare, visit or call 1-800-633-4227 (TTY 1-877-486-2048 if you are deaf or hard of hearing).

Retirement — If you were born before 1938, your full retirement age is 65. Because of a 1983 change in the law, the full retirement age will increase gradually to 67 for people born in 1960 and later.

   Some people retire before their full retirement age. You can retire as early as 62 and take benefits at a reduced rate. If you work after your full retirement age, you can receive higher benefits because of additional earnings and credits for delayed retirement.

Disability — If you become disabled before full retirement age, you can receive disability benefits after six months if you have:

enough credits from earnings (depending on your age, you must have earned six to 20 of your credits in the three to 10 years before you became disabled); and
a physical or mental impairment that’s expected to prevent you from doing “substantial” work for a year or more or result in death.

   If you are filing for disability benefits, please let us know if you are on active military duty or are a recently discharged veteran, so that we can handle your claim more quickly.

Family — If you’re eligible for disability or retirement benefits, your current or divorced spouse, minor children or adult children disabled before age 22 also may receive benefits. Each may qualify for up to about 50 percent of your benefit amount.

Survivors — When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for benefits:

your spouse age 60 or older (50 or older if disabled, or any age if caring for your children younger than age 16); and
your children if unmarried and younger than age 18, still in school and younger than 19 years old, or adult children disabled before age 22.

   If you are divorced, your ex-spouse could be eligible for a widow’s or widower’s benefit on your record when you die.

Extra Help with Medicare — If you know someone who is on Medicare and has limited income and resources, extra help is available for prescription drug costs. The extra help can help pay the monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. To learn more or to apply, visit or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Receive benefits and still work...
You can work and still get retirement or survivors benefits. If you’re younger than your full retirement age, there are limits on how much you can earn without affecting your benefit amount. When you apply for benefits, we’ll tell you what the limits are and whether work would affect your monthly benefits. When you reach full retirement age, the earnings limits no longer apply.

Before you decide to retire...
Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of early retirement. If you choose to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, your monthly benefits will be permanently reduced.

   To help you decide the best time to retire, we offer a free booklet, Social Security — Retirement Benefits (Publication No. 05-10035), that provides specific information about retirement. You can calculate future retirement benefits on our website at by using the Social Security Benefit Calculators.

   Other helpful free publications include:

Understanding The Benefits (No. 05-10024)

Your Retirement Benefit: How It Is Figured
    (No. 05-10070)

Windfall Elimination Provision (No. 05-10045)

Government Pension Offset (No. 05-10007)

Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number
    (No. 05-10064)

   We also have other leaflets and fact sheets with information about specific topics such as military service, self-employment or foreign employment. You can request Social Security publications at our website,, or by calling us at 1-800-772-1213. Our website has a list of frequently asked questions that may answer questions you have. We have easy-to-use online applications for benefits that can save you a telephone call or a trip to a field office.

   You may also qualify for government benefits outside of Social Security. For more information on these benefits, visit

If you need more information—Visit on the Internet, contact any Social Security office, call 1-800-772-1213 or write to Social Security Administration, Office of Earnings Operations, P.O. Box 33026, Baltimore, MD 21290-3026. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-800-325-0778. If you have questions about your personal information, you must provide your complete Social Security number. If your address is incorrect on this Statement, ask the Internal Revenue Service to send you a Form 8822. We do not keep your address if you are not receiving Social Security benefits.

Para solicitar una Declaración en español, llame al 1-800-772-1213.

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Last reviewed or modified Wednesday Apr 02, 2008
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