Know Your Benefits

Each individual’s Social Security benefit plan is tailored uniquely to him or her, and with 567 different factors that can affect your benefit amount, knowing what to expect from the Social Security Administration can feel overwhelming. While you should always consult with a professional to receive a true estimate, here’s a look at the different benefit types provided by Social Security, and what factors are going to affect you the most.


Retirement benefits are the benefit type that the majority of individuals are most familiar with. The benefit amount that a person may receive for retirement is affected by eight primary factors. These factors include:

  • If you’re recovering benefits while currently working
  • The type of work that you do (farm work, military service, self-employment, etc.)
  • A government pension offset
  • Income tax
  • Maximum taxable earnings
  • Pensions, annuities, interest, and dividends
  • Social Security credits
  • The Windfall Elimination Provision

Additionally, when estimating future benefits it’s important to keep in mind that your earnings may increase or decrease in the future, your benefits will be adjusted for the cost of living, and the law regarding your benefit amount may change.

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are those benefits that are provided to you or to your dependents in the case that you have worked under Social Security, have a disability or impairing condition, and are unable to return to work for an expected duration of at least 12 months.


Medicare is typically reserved for those people ages 65 and older, although some people younger than age 65 may qualify if they have a disability or certain other conditions. Medicare can be received even before you’re ready to retire, and will help with some healthcare costs.

Survivors’ Benefits

If you have lost a loved one who was a recipient of Social Security benefits, and if you are a qualifying dependent or family member, then you may be able to begin collecting the deceased’s benefits on your own record.

Supplemental Security Income

The Supplement Security Income program is provided by the Social Security Administration as part one of two disability programs. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits to those who have a qualifying disability, and are of limited income and resources.

The best way to know your benefit amount is to use an online benefit estimator provided by the Social Security Administration, create an account with the Social Security Administration to get an estimate of your future benefits, and to meet with a professional consultant.