5 Facts You Might Not Know About Social Security

July 19, 2018 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 19, 2018

little girl getting a piggy back ride on older womanMost people know at least something about Social Security. For decades, Social Security has been providing valuable information and tools to help you build financial security. Here’s your opportunity to find out a little more, with some lesser-known facts about Social Security.

1. Social Security pays benefits to children.

Social Security pays benefits to unmarried children whose parents are deceased, disabled, or retired. See Benefits for Children for the specific requirements.

2. Social Security can pay benefits to parents.

Most people know that when a worker dies, we can pay benefits to surviving spouses and children. What you may not know is that under certain circumstances, we can pay benefits to a surviving parent. Read our Fact Sheet Parent’s Benefits, for the details.

3. Widows’ and widowers’ payments can continue if remarriage occurs after age 60.

Remarriage ends survivor’s benefits when it occurs before age 60, but benefits can continue for marriages after age 60.

4. If a spouse draws reduced retirement benefits before starting spouse’s benefits (his or her spouse is younger), the spouse will not receive 50 percent of the worker’s benefit amount.

Your full spouse’s benefit could be up to 50 percent of your spouse’s full retirement age amount if you are full retirement age when you take it. If you qualify for your own retirement benefit and a spouse’s benefit, we always pay your own benefit first. (For example, you are eligible for $400 from your own retirement and $150 as a spouse for a total of $550.) The reduction rates for retirement and spouses benefits are different. If your spouse is younger, you cannot receive benefits unless he or she is receiving benefits (except for divorced spouses). If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, when you add spouse’s benefits later, your own retirement portion remains reduced which causes the total retirement and spouses benefit together to total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount. You can find out more on our website.

5. If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If the deceased worker started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to the surviving spouse. The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive. Generally, the limit is the higher of:

  • The reduced monthly retirement benefit to which the deceased spouse would have been entitled if they had lived, or
  • 82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Social Security helps secure your financial future by providing the facts you need to make life’s important decisions.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Katie s.

    I’m just curious if a child receives his deceased parents social security does the living parent have to account for it to the court or the government?

  2. Urs B.

    I contacted Elaine Cole. I had her personal number from the social studies homework answers app. She answered the bulk of questions there, so I thought she could be of some help.
    Social studies course, University of Skövde

  3. Samuel t.

    Social Security is a great opportunity for every disable or old age persons who are retired or near to retirement. i strongly recommend you all to secure your and your’s children future.

  4. Thomas

    Social Security is a great opportunity for every disable or old age persons who are retired or near to retirement. i strongly recommend you all to secure your and your’s children future

  5. RICKY L.

    I want to know if any one is drawing from my social security. Ricky Lynn Smith dob xx/xx/xxxx ss# xxxx

    • R S.

      Please delete

    • Vonda V.

      For your security, Ricky, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  6. Karen S.

    The one question about benefits delayed until 70 that is not answered is this: maximum benefits are calculated and assumed based on the fact that the individual continues to work during the period of age 66-70. What happens to the benefit if the individual retires but does not work (or contribute to social security) for the four years and waits until 70 to collect? Where can this information be found?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Karen, thanks for using our blog. Social Security has an online calculator called a Retirement Estimator that provides immediate retirement benefit estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record. Plus, it also allows you to create “what if” scenarios. You can, for example, change your “stop work” dates or expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement alternatives.

      If you sign in or create a my Social Security account, you can use the Retirement Calculator which gives you the ability to plan for your future and compare your individualized retirement benefit estimates at age 62, Full Retirement Age (FRA), and age 70 with various scenarios that you select. Your retirement estimates are provided in both written and chart form.

      Check out our Benefits Planner: Retirement web page for more on obtaining benefit estimates.

    • Cynthia W.

      I am age 65 and worked for 40 years. I plan to collect SS at age 70. Will i receive reduced SS benefits since I will not be employed 65-70 years of age?

      • Vonda

        Hi Cynthia, thank you for the question. A Social Security retirement benefit is calculated by using your highest 35 years of earnings. If you do not have 35 years of earnings, we will use all of the earnings on your record and factor in an annual total of $0.00 earnings for each of the remaining years.

        If you have a my Social Security account, you can get an estimate of your personal retirement benefits and see the effects of different retirement age scenarios. You can also view the benefits you could receive based on your spouse’s earnings history, or the benefits your spouse could receive based on your earnings history.

        If you are unable to create an account, you can use our online Retirement Estimator. We hope this is helpful!

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