Social Security is a massive government system designed to help people financially when certain triggers are hit. Most people think of social security in terms of retirement benefits, and that is a large part of what the system provides. For retirement, the system will provide you with benefits assuming you’ve paid into it and are covered with the required 40 quarters of credit. It’s quite easy to acquire credit for one quarter of coverage. In 2017, it took earnings of $1300 to get one quarter of coverage. Last year it took $1260 in earnings.  It changes year by year but after you’ve earned 40 quarters of coverage, you are entitled to all social security benefits.

The retirement benefit portion of social security can be thought of as a defined benefit pension plan where you’ll receive a monthly payment for life once you’re earned enough credits and qualify for benefits based on age. Not everyone pays into social security; many teachers, public employees, municipal employees, railroad workers, and other specialty occupations do not pay into the system and are not entitled to benefits.

The program provides benefits for the worker and the spouse, and these benefits can be had at various ages. Over time, they tend to raise the full retirement age to get all of your benefits. Here is the chart of what age was necessary to achieve in order to qualify for full retirement benefits under the system.

If you start getting benefits at age*And you are the Wage Earner, the Retirement Benefit you will receive is reduced toAnd you are the Spouse, the Retirement Benefit you will receive is reduced to
6280.0%37.5%
62 + 1 Month80.6%37.8%
62 + 2 Months81.1%38.2%
62 + 3 Months81.7%38.5%
62 + 4 Months82.2%38.9%
62 + 5 Months82.8%39.2%
62 + 6 Months83.3%39.6%
62 + 7 Months83.9%39.9%
62 + 8 Months84.4%40.3%
62 + 9 Months85.0%40.6%
62 + 10 Months85.6%41.0%
62 + 11 Months86.1%41.3%
6386.7%41.7%
63 + 1 Month87.2%42.0%
63 + 2 Months87.8%42.4%
63 + 3 Months88.3%42.7%
63 + 4 Months88.9%43.1%
63 + 5 Months89.4%43.4%
63 + 6 Months90.0%43.8%
63 + 7 Months90.6%44.1%
63 + 8 Months91.1%44.4%
63 + 9 Months91.7%44.8%
63 + 10 Months92.2%45.1%
63 + 11 Months92.8%45.5%
6493.3%45.8%
64 + 1 Month93.9%46.2%
64 + 2 Months94.4%46.5%
64 + 3 Months95.0%46.9%
64 + 4 Months95.6%47.2%
64 + 5 Months96.1%47.6%
64 + 6 Months96.7%47.9%
64 + 7 Months97.2%48.3%
64 + 8 Months97.8%48.6%
64 + 9 Months98.3%49.0%
64 + 10 Months98.9%49.3%
64 + 11 Months99.4%49.7%
65100.0%50.0%

* If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, then we figure the benefit as if your birthday were the previous month.

 

For survivors it’s a slightly different calculation; here is the chart for survivors.

Year of Birth (1)Full (survivors) Retirement Age (2)At age 62 (3), a $1000 survivors benefit would be reduced toMonths between age 60 and full retirement ageMonthly % reduction (4)
1939 or earlier65$82960.475
194065 and 2 months$82562.460
194165 and 4 months$82264.445
194265 and 6 months$81966.432
194365 and 8 months$81668.419
194465 and 10 months$81370.407
1945-195666$81072.396
195766 and 2 months$80774.385
195866 and 4 months$80576.375
195966 and 6 months$80378.365
196066 and 8 months$80180.356
196166 and 10 months$79882.348
1962 and later67$79684.339
  1. If the survivor was born on January 1st of any year, use the information for the previous year.
  2. If someone was born on the 1st of the month, we figure the benefit (and the full retirement age) as if their birthday was in the previous month.
    Note: The full retirement age may be different for retirement benefits.
  3. The $1000 benefit would be reduced to $715 for anyone who started receiving survivors benefits at age 60.
  4. Monthly reduction percentages are approximate due to rounding. The maximum benefit is limited to what the worker would receive if they were still alive. Survivors benefits that start at age 60 are always reduced by 28.50%.

 

For even more details, see the social security site here:

https://www.ssa.gov/retire/