Disability, Retirement, Survivors

5 Ways Social Security Protects You and Your Family

January 18, 2018 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 16, 2021

family of 3 by a Christmas tree, drinking hot chocolate Next payday, when you see a portion of your wages go toward FICA taxes, rest easier knowing that your investment in Social Security brings a lifetime of protections for you and your family.

From your first job and throughout your career, we track your earnings and give you credits for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. Those credits can translate into important future benefits. As you prepare for a financially secure future, you should know about these five benefits that you, your spouse, and your children may become eligible for through Social Security:

Retirement benefits provide you with a continuous source of income later in life. If you’ve earned enough credits, you can start receiving your full retirement benefits at age 66 or 67 — depending on when you were born. You may choose to claim these benefits as early as age 62 at a permanently reduced rate, but waiting until after your full retirement age increases your benefit amount by up to 8 percent per year to age 70. Plan for your retirement on our Retirement Benefits page.

Disability benefits offer a financial lifeline if you’re struck by a serious medical condition that makes it impossible for you to work and provide for yourself and your family and is expected to last at least one year or to result in death. Learn more on our Benefits for People with Disabilities page.

Child benefits support your minor children while you’re receiving Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits. This financial support also is available to adult children who become disabled before age 22. Grandchildren and stepchildren may qualify in certain situations. Please see our Parents and Guardians page.

Spousal benefits supplement a couple’s income if one of the two never worked or had low lifetime earnings. In some cases, this benefit is also available to divorced spouses. Please see our Retirement Benefits page.

Survivors benefits ease the financial burden on your loved ones after you die by providing monthly payments to eligible widows, widowers, children, and dependent parents. It’s likely the survivor benefits you have under Social Security carry greater value than your individual life-insurance policy. Read more on our Survivors Benefits page.

You must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive any type of Social Security benefits.

Currently, Social Security provides benefits to more than 66 million American workers and their families. And we’ll be there for you and your family through life’s journey.

Learn more about all of our programs on our website.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Janae A.

    My father passed away right before i was about to start college and I received SSI checks for him. But once he passed and I graduated high school they stopped is it possible that I can get help with college through social security?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Janae. We are sorry for your loss. At one time, Social Security did pay benefits to college students, but the law changed in 1981. Today, if a child is receiving benefits based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record, we pay these benefits to students who are taking courses at grade 12 or below. However, if a child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, their benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child turns age 19, whichever is first. For more information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

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  3. wayne

    you still have to wait 1 hr and 20 mins on hold , and still not get the correct answer.

  4. John G.

    What will happen when the shutdown happens to our January benefits?

    • Chad

      Nothing. Read that you’ll still get ’em.

  5. Mia

    Hi my son and I are receiving Survivor benefits . And when I applyed I was pregnant with my little girl. She is now 7 years old so Is my daughter still Eligible To apply for survivor benefits or is it to late? He dad passed 7 years ago

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Mia, we are very sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      To inquire about potential survivor benefits for your daughter, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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