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. E S.

    I read that immigrants that come to the US that have never paid anything into the Social Security program get to draw a check. Is this true?

    • Ray F.

      You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes.
      We use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for retirement or disability benefits or your family’s eligibility for
      survivors benefits when you die.

  2. Harry H.

    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.
    AS it Should and was meant, every one pays it I Agree no one should get it but for the reasons listed . on the other hand

    Why can’t we use Medicare it is paid for the same way with a Medicare TAX used for the same reason SS can.
    Evey one needs to have Access to Medicare for all not just those on SS. you can tell me all want a lot of excuses why but Medicare was meant for everyone at any age. I would even pay a SS tax out of check if I had to in support of medicare for all or a single payer system in the US . even if your on SS and Medicare you wouldn’t believe the Unessential BS they put you though for some health care stuff like durable supply’s.

    • Harry H.

      That Unessential BS is not Medicare causing it either so I found out the Hard way one time .

  3. Joanne

    In the event of government shutdown, will social security checks be deposited into bank account on regular schedule?

    • Harry H.

      More then likely yes the last one we had the check didn’t stop it all depends how long it lasts which won’t be long they lose to much money …during Shutdowns and trump and his party will get the blame.

      • Harry H.

        Don’t think they won’t .

    • Ray F.

      The agency’s Contingency Plan, at https://ssa.gov/agency/shutdown/materials/contingency-plan.pdf, will answer your questions. Thanks!

      • Joanne

        Thank you for this response!

  4. Pat

    Why is it that it takes 1 year to get someone to make a decision on my widow benefits. They say that they overpaid me and I have filed the proper paperwork but a year later I am still waiting for a decision.

    • Snarky

      You just can’t wait to pay back your overpayment, what a patriot. Call them and insist they send you another bill.

    • James D.

      Likely because they are under staffed and have a backlog of cases. Call them and inquire: 1-800-772-1213. Call later in the week and later in month when call volume is lower.

    • Ray F.

      We apologize for the long wait, Pat. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog.
      Please continue working with your local office. You can request to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day. Thanks.



    • Marc

      Because you’re working, and wages are subject to FICA. Period. Social Security isn’t a private savings account just for you. All workers pay a percentage of their check their whole working lives into one big fund. The money in that fund is invested and the income used to pay out benefits when you retire or become permanently disabled (unable ever to work again) before retirement age. It’s all in one shared pot, that everyone who works contributes into for the good of all. That way every workiinf American is guaranteed at least a minimum of income when they no longer work so the elderly who had no retirement funds – which was just about everybody andbir now againThat’s what “community,” and “society” mean. Everyone receives a percentage of what they put in over their whole working life. How can anyone not take the learn what Social Security is and how it works, particularly when they are drawing from it? Yet they feel perfectly comfortable bashing the program when they know nothing about it at all…strange.

      • Snarky

        Good answer but too long, he’ll never get past the first sentence.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Terrance. Current law requires everyone working in covered employment or self-employment, regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040.

  6. Sheldon l.

    The 4 anything approval or no its been a pleasure. Not a pleasantries really

  7. Monty N.

    When you say, “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.” Are you implying that everyone who is retired and on Social Security will begin paying FICA taxes beginning in February 2018?

    • Marc

      Hello?! Did you mot see the words “payday” and “wages” in that sentence? Did you not even read the article? Your retirement benefit is NOT wages; you aren’t receiving it as a paycheck. How in the world could you have possibly read that sentence to say anything about your retirement benefits being assessed FICA?? No wonder we have morons running the government when voters who put them there cannot even understand a basic sentence in English. Kind of ironic, eh – Americans who can’t read or understand their own language will never hesitate to complain about immmigrants not speaking our language…

    • Snarky

      FICA comes out of wages, so yes, if you are still working.

    • Ray F.

      Everyone actively working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes.
      In the other hand, some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. Thanks!

  8. Anna V.

    Here’s hoping the program can survive the rabid gop loons who are trying to destroy our benefits!

    • Snarky

      No they are not, have some more cool-aide.

    • James D.

      I’m with you. SS is money we have EARNED. I’m doing everything I can to help SS survive the radical GOP agenda.

      • Larry N.

        Radical GOP agenda? Is that the one where the Paul Ryan look a like pushes grandma off the cliff? Please keep misleading political back stabbing to a minimum. There just may be someone with an opposing view who is more interested in facts than blaming a party who has rarely been in complete power over legislation for the last 90 years. Does I.O.U. Ring any bells

  9. JAMA

    every social and other social has department of t

  10. Henry

    what happens to all of your FICA taxes paid into SSA if you die, and leave no eligible widow and no minor children? How does your estate recoup those taxes?

    • Ronaldo P.

      Thanks again for your help with My director’s office back I’m back in the State government and appreciate your help with this one but you need to leave my house Of representative desktop computer science engineering department alone.. Thanks the Weather Channel and Google guidelines for the Weather Wizard Keeping it Real stats

    • Snarky

      It doesn’t. SS is an insurance plan. When you’re 95 and decide to stop driving is the insurance company going to return your premiums if you never had an accident?

    • Harry H.

      if they start making it a pay check for the purpose of taxing us i want a better increase … Medicare for all etc etc so to Answer your Question NO because SS is not a working income or thought of as one . nor is it a entitlement like they call it , it’s a right we pay for .. as a Benefit for retirement or if you can’t work or become disabled during your working years before 62 or 65 ….

      • Tom

        It is social insurance. Think of it as term insurance for people who can no longer work if disabled, retire if not, or die and have eligible dependents. You don’t get your premiums back. You joined a risk pool to have a backup plan if something went wrong or you retired. It is not a personal account. Conversely, you don’t stop getting payments when your contributions run out. Thinking of SS as a personal account will not allow you to understand how an insurance plan works. Of course, many Americans now are fixated on themselves (why we are polarized) and don’t see the wisdom in sharing risks so we are all better off as a country. That is too bad.

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