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Who is Eligible for Social Security Benefits

Who is Eligible for Social Security Benefits
Social security benefits are of great assistance to retirees and the disabled. However, having a general idea about the eligibility criteria will help you in availing these benefits at the right time.
Medha Godbole
People work for years, sometimes reluctantly, with discontent; or sometimes with satisfaction. But there is one thread that binds such professionals or employees of a company. The common thread connecting them is that they look forward to retirement benefits from the job, that fall under social security benefits. It is a very important part of retirement planning for many. That is the level of influence that the social security card has on people. Social Security number is the most important number in an American citizen's life, more important than even a bank account number. However, the most important thing is to be aware of the eligibility criteria for its associated benefits.

General Eligibility Requirements

If you want to be eligible for availing the benefits, then there are some things you have to make sure. In addition, you will need to have proofs for backing them up. The requirements are as follows -
  1. American citizenship
  2. Contributions made for these benefits for minimum 10 years, prior to the time you can enjoy them
  3. Existence of a surviving dependent
  4. Ex-Spouse
  5. Dependent child or grandchild
  6. A child supporting a parent who is a senior citizen
A vital aspect to keep in mind here, is that these benefits are not communicated to an individual as soon as he/she retires. A proper application has to be made, accompanied by the necessary documents and proofs.

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

The earlier requirements were generic. You can get spouse's/survivor benefits if -
  1. You are a senior citizen, and have worked for at least 10 years.
  2. If you are married, then your spouse is eligible for benefits extended to dependents, once the spouse turns age 62.
  3. If both spouses worked for at least 10 years, then each one is eligible for their own retirement benefits and dependent's benefits from their spouse's social security too.
  4. A person who is eligible for more than one social security benefit; cannot collect all of it. However, he/she can choose an option that can potentially provide greater benefits.
  5. If a spouse eligible for retirement or disability benefits dies, then the surviving spouse is probably eligible for survivor's benefits and they can start as early as 60 years of age.
Along with these, if your elderly parent was working, but became disabled before reaching full retirement age, then he/she can be eligible for disability benefits. If they are eligible, then that person's spouse too is eligible for dependent's benefits at 65, or possibly at the age of 62, as well, which is referred to as early retirement social security.

Others who are eligible for the benefits are the disabled. One of the most important requirements for a person to be eligible for disability benefits is that the person who is applying for the benefits has to be unable to indulge in any type of productive/previous work. The disability, moreover, has to be a medically serious condition.

All the aforementioned aspects provide you with a general idea about who is eligible for social security benefits. The eligibility criteria related with benefits are so complicated that it is advisable to consult the respective administrative body for further queries or advice.