Social Security_Retirement Insurance

Agency - Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration advances the economic security of the nation's people through compassionate and vigilant leadership in shaping and managing America's Social Security programs.

Office - Consult Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2006, an average of 33,638,000 retired workers and their auxiliaries received monthly cash benefits. For fiscal year 2007, an average of 34,137,000 retired workers and their auxiliaries received monthly cash benefits. During fiscal year 2008, the average number receiving benefits is expected to increase to 34,673,000.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Monthly cash benefits are paid to eligible retired workers and their eligible auxiliaries.

There are no restrictions on use of benefits by a beneficiary, although the right to future benefits is not transferable or assignable.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Retired workers age 62 and over who have worked the required number of years under Social Security are eligible for monthly benefits.

Coverage credits under the social security systems of certain foreign countries with which the U.S.

has reciprocal agreements may be taken into account to meet the requirements.

If an eligible worker age 62 or over receives benefits before full-benefit retirement age (FRA)(age 66 for workers age 62 in 2005), the individual's retirement benefit will be permanently reduced.

Also, certain family members can receive benefits including: (1) A wife or husband age 62 or over; (2) a spouse at any age, if a child who is under age 16 or is disabled is in his or her care and is entitled to benefits based on the worker's record; (3) unmarried children under age 18 (or under age 19 for students in elementary or secondary school); (4) unmarried adult offspring at any age if disabled before age 22; and (5) divorced wives or husbands age 62 or over who were married to the worker for at least 10 years.

Beginning January 1985, spouses ages 62 or over who have been divorced for at least 2 years (and married to the worker for at least 10 years) may become entitled to benefits regardless of whether the former spouse who is at least age 62 and fully insured has applied for benefits.

Effective January 1991, the 2-year waiting period for payment of divorced spouse's benefits without regard to the former spouse's earnings was waived if the former spouse was entitled to benefits prior to the divorce.

All benefits, other than benefits to disabled beneficiaries, and beneficiaries FRA and older, are subject to an earnings test.

Beginning with the year 2000, the retirement earnings test was eliminated beginning with the month in which the beneficiary reaches FRA.

A person at and above FRA will not have Social Security benefits reduced because of earnings.

In the calendar year in which a beneficiary reaches FRA, benefits are reduced $1 for every $3 of earnings above the limit allowed by law, $31,800 in 2005, but this reduction is applied only to months prior to attainment of FRA.

For years before the year the beneficiary attains FRA, the reduction in benefits is $1 for every $2 of earnings over the annual exempt amount, $11,640 in 2005.

For workers who are first eligible after 1985 for both (a) a pension based on non-covered employment; and (b) Social Security retirement (or disability) benefits, a different benefit formula applies which provides somewhat lower benefits.

The Social Security benefit for a spouse of a retired worker is subject to a pension offset if the spouse receives a governmental pension based on his or her own work in non-covered employment.

However, the offset does not apply if: (i) the person has received or became eligible to receive the pension before December 1, 1982, and met eligibility requirements for Social Security auxiliaries' benefits as they existed in January 1977; or (ii) if the person receives, or is eligible to receive, the pension before July 1, 1983, and the person was dependent on his or her spouse for at least one-half support at the time the spouse died, became disabled or became entitled to Social Security benefits.

The amount of the public pension used for purposes of the offset against Social Security spouse's benefits is equal to two-thirds of the public pension.

The benefit for the spouse of a retired worker is also offset dollar for dollar by the amount of any Social Security benefit the spouse receives based on his or her own work.

Effective for those who have reached age 62 since August 1981, a retired worker or spouse can receive benefits only for months in which he or she has attained at least age 62 for the entire month.

No benefit can be paid to an alien in the United States unless he or she is lawfully present in the United States.

In addition, an alien cannot qualify for benefits if he or she never had a work-authorized SocialSeurity Number (SSN) effective for benefit applications based on SSNs issued after 2003).

Beneficiary Eligibility

Benefits are paid to retired workers age 62 and over who have worked the required number of years under Social Security, and to certain family members.


Proof of age is required. If applying for benefits for auxiliaries, additional proofs of age, dependency, and relationship to the retired worker may be required. To receive benefits, auxiliaries must have a SSN.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Call toll free at 1 (800) 772-1213 or, telephone or visit the local Social Security Office. Retired workers, spouses and divorced spouses may also apply via the Internet.

Award Procedures

After review of the application is completed, the applicant (or representative payee) will be notified by mail.


It is to the worker's advantage to apply for benefits in the three months before he or she retires. Retroactivity is limited to 6 months if unreduced benefits are being awarded. No retroactivity is provided where reduced benefits are being awarded.


Social Security Act of 1935, Title II, as amended; 42 U.S.C. 401-433; Public Law 104-208.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time



Call toll free at 1(800) 772-1213 or telephone or visit the local Social Security office. The appeal process can range from a case review to a review by the Federal Courts. An appeal must be requested in writing within 60 days of the date on which a written notice of SSA's decision is received by the applicant. The 60 days start the day after notice is received.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements


Length and Time Phasing of Assistance


Post Assistance Requirements


Any change in address or eligibility requirements (such as work status, marital or family status, or school attendance) must be reported to the Social Security Office when it occurs.





Financial Information

Account Identification



(Benefit Payments) FY 07 $406,880,000,000; FY 08 est $428,032,000,000; and FY 09 est reported. (Note: These figures represent benefits actually paid, or expected to be paid.)

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Monthly cash benefits for a worker retiring at full retirement age (FRA) in 2005 range up to $1,939 and to a maximum of $3,394.10 for a family of such a worker receiving benefits. As of December 31, 2004, the average benefit paid to a retired worker alone (no family members receiving benefits) was $942 and the average amount payable to a retired worker with an eligible spouse was $1,574.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Parts 401, 404, and 422. "Your Social Security", "Thinking About Retiring", and many other publications are available from any Social Security office without charge.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Consult Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Office of Public Inquiries, Room 4100, Annex, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, MD 21235. Telephone: (410) 965-2736. Use the same number for FTS.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


The Social Incubator North, a £2 million incubator fund spearheaded by Sheffield-based Key Fund in collaboration with the four Northern Social Enterprise Partnerships and Locality, is providing 0% interest loans to North of England’s social entrepreneurs.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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