Social Security: Additional Benefits Available That You Should Know About
Social Security is often thought of as just a retirement income plan for older Americans, and the truth is that most of the money in that program is paid to retirees. But if you’ve ever looked at your paycheck and seen a deduction for “OASDI,” you might have figured out that Social Security provides much more than a simple retirement benefit. That OASDI tag stands for “Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance,” and it describes the remaining primary benefits of the Social Security program. While not all taxpayers will ever avail of all of the OASDI benefits, you should be aware of what they are in case you’re entitled to them.
The Social Security Administration uses a complicated series of calculations to determine how much it should pay to retirees. The ultimate number is based on a combination of work history and retirement age. But did you know that you may be able to claim a retirement benefit even if you’ve never worked a day in your life? If your spouse is receiving benefits, you may be entitled to a spousal benefit of up to 50% of your spouse’s benefit. If you’re also entitled to your own retirement benefit, you’re allowed to claim the higher of the two. Perhaps even more surprising, even if you’re divorced, you may be able to claim a spousal benefit based on the amount that your ex-spouse is drawing. However, you must have been married for at least 10 years before your divorce and not currently married in order to qualify.
If your spouse dies, you and your children may be entitled to survivors benefits. Qualification depends on the earnings record of your deceased spouse. If he or she was receiving retirement benefits, or qualified for them before claiming them, you’re likely entitled to benefits. The first benefit is a lump-sum payout of $255. But ongoing benefits are paid as well, just like monthly retirement benefits. If you’re already receiving spousal benefits, you won’t even have to file any applications. The Social Security Administration will automatically adjust your benefits as needed.
The amount of the survivors benefit depends on a number of factors. If you’re at full retirement age and are a widow or widower, you’ll receive 100% of your spouse’s benefit. Children under age 18, or 19 if enrolled in secondary or elementary school, can receive a 75% benefit. Even dependent parents of the deceased worker may receive a benefit of 75% to 82.5% if they are 62 or older. Since there are many payout percentages for survivors, you should contact the Social Security Administration to determine your qualifying amount.
As of June 2021, 5.9 million Americans were receiving survivors benefits, with an aggregate monthly payout of $7.3 billion.
The final major leg of the Social Security system is disability insurance. You can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance if you’ve been injured to the point that you are unable to work for at least five months — payments usually start with your sixth month of disability. If you’re physically able to return to work, you will no longer be eligible for disability payments. You’ll also have to pay tax on your benefits if you’re a single filer with more than $25,000 in income ($32,000 for joint filers).
As of June 2021, 9.5 million Americans, including dependents, were receiving disability insurance, in a total aggregate monthly amount of $10.9 billion. The average monthly disability benefit was $1,280.
A limited number of Americans can qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program. If you’re disabled or blind and have limited income, or are over 65 with limited income and no disability, you may earn monthly payments for basic needs like food and shelter. This program derives its income from general tax revenue, not Social Security taxes, but it’s applicable to some recipients of disability insurance.
Social Security Retirement Statistics
While disability insurance, spousal and survivors benefits are important parts of the Social Security program, retirement benefits still represent the bulk of government payouts. As of June 2021, 49.6 million retired workers and their dependents were receiving benefits, to the tune of over $75 billion per month. This represents over 95% of the total Social Security payments made in June 2021.
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