5 Facts You Might Not Know About Social Security

July 19, 2018 • By

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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. brian

    My 80 year old dad who is on Social Security thinks he can’t have more than $2000.00 in his checking account at any time. He can’t drive anymore so I have to get him enough money every month to keep him under the $2000.00. I need something to so him that he don’t have to draw money out if he don’t need it.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Brian, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. If your dad is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs based program, any change in income or assets could affect the SSI benefit amount. However, if your dad is receiving Social Security benefits, the amount is based on how much he has worked and paid into the Social Security program. His assets, including his bank accounts, have no affect on his Social Security benefits. We hope this information helps.

  2. Bernice P.

    I have been waiting on a decision on my widow benefits. I went all the way to the Appeals Council. I was on SSDI when my spouse died. The fourth year is when i called SS office and sent my marriage certificate and was paid for one year. But Im appealing the other pass 3 years. I was told I wasnt eligible until I turned 67 yrs of age. I ve seen the aministrative law judge also. I ve been waiting and waiting. I did everything I was told to do. Even the lawyer I got wasnt even helping either. I did everything myself. I feel so helpless and stressed. What advice can you give me.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Bernice. We are sorry to hear about your situation. For your security, 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, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  3. Dennis D.

    I am 68 years old and not currently drawing any SS my Ex wife is 63 and not currently drawing SS either now. Much of my wife’s career she made more income than I did.
    My question – Am I allowed to draw any of her benefits currently? We were married 25 years and divorced 5 years ago?
    Thank you for your assistance

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Dennis, thanks for using our blog. Because you were born before January 2, 1954 and have already reached full retirement age, you can choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefit and delay receiving your own retirement benefit until a later date.

      Check out our Divorced Spouses web page for the eligibility requirements. You can apply online by using our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s, divorced spouse’s or Medicare benefits.


    i started my social security. and in short time passed away unaspacted. he had worked professional field for 30 years.and he was getting his ssc also.
    I worked for county for 18 years. so i know about the
    rules 1/3 and 2/3. but even than i feel that i am not getting what i should get . medicare and part D is also part of it. I think that because we worked hard and saved
    I am paying in taxes and to ssc also . I paid in to social security when i worked in privet industry.and my husband paid all his working years. it feels like I am still paying 2/3 out of my total to ssc . so I am paying again and again on my earned $. SO I AM ONLY GETTING 1/3 . NOT FAIR.

  5. Yvonne H.

    If I am receiving my SS and my husband was receiving his. he passed away in April.. will I get part of his SS and well as mine?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Yvonne, We are very sorry for your loss. The amount of your widow’s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of your husband, when he started receiving his benefits, your age, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit, you would be eligible for survivor benefits. To learn how much you could be eligible for, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) 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. Amy M.

    can the IRS take my personal SSI instead of taking from my benefits from my deceased husband that i draw on.

  7. Andy

    My wife is 64 she’s still working making $45k wants to apply for spousal benefits but was told she has to apply for her own benefits first.I will be 70 next year I will apply for first time my benefits will be higher than hers .How does SS calculate the amount of money from each account? Does the money come out of each account or just one?

    • Luis A.

      Hi Andy. Thank you for your question. By law, if your wife has enough credits to qualify for her own Social Security retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we would pay your wife her own retirement benefits first. If your wife’s benefits as a spouse are higher than her own retirement benefits, she will get a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount. The same is true for you, if your wife’s Social Security record is higher than your own retirement benefits. For more information, please visit our Retirement Benefits Planner, Benefits For You As A Spouse, and Getting Benefits While Working. For specific questions about your own or your wife’s application, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

  8. Brenda A.

    I am 70 years old and my husband is 81, we have been married for over 40 years. we both receive Social Security. If he pass before me will I get his social security along with mine.

  9. Barbara J.

    I am a widow of a U.S. Army Sgt and would like to know what benefits are included in Medicare for Life. I am already in this program, just don’t know what it covers. Thanks

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Barbara. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about your account in this venue. To get additional information on Medicare benefits, check out their website here. You may also wish to contact your local Medicare SHIP (State Health Insurance Program Coordinator) to discuss your options. We hope this helps.

  10. Teresa R.

    My husband went down to retire at his full retirement age. The guy said he can go back so many months. Well does that mean it was a reduced retirement? We have been confused the way that was handled. Thank you.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Teresa. Unfortunately, but for your security, we do not have access to your husband’s personal information on this Forum. In your situation, it is best to contact your local Social Security office. You may also call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask to speak with one of our representatives, who are available Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Teresa. Unfortunately, but for your security, we do not have access to your husband’s personal information in this forum. For specific questions about your case, please contact your local Social Security office. You may also call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and ask to speak with one of our representatives. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps.

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