We often conceive of Social Security as a ‘retirees only’ benefit. But the fact of the matter is that over 10 million people below retirement age also receive Social Security paychecks every month. Social Security is intended to provide retirees, those with disabilities, families of deceased workers, and children with a source of stability and income.

Families of Deceased Workers

For spouses, minor children, and even ex-spouses or dependents of deceased workers, Social Security provides survivors benefits. These benefits are not guaranteed, as the worker in question must have earned enough credits to qualify. This number changes depending on their age at death. Spouses may receive Survivor benefits at the age of 60 – 50 if they have disabilities. Unmarried ex-spouses may also receive these benefits if they were married to the recipient for 10 years or more. Spouses and ex-spouses that are caring for the deceased worker’s young children are eligible regardless of other requirements.

Disability Benefits

If a person is no longer able to work due to disability, they may also be eligible for benefits. If a disability is expected to last for more than a year or is a lifelong development, there is potential for qualification. This will depend on the age that the disability occurred and how many credits have been earned. Note that Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are not the same and have very different requirements and considerations.

Children’s Benefits

Children of disabled or deceased Social Security earners may qualify if their parents have earned their own credits, as shown above. Most Social Security benefits are restricted to high-school age (up to 19) children, but this extends to the age of 22 for young persons with disabilities. Largely, if a parent is eligible for Social Security benefits, then a child will also be eligible. This applies to the above cases but also applies in the case that a parent has achieved retirement age.

Social Security is a social safety net that millions of Americans pay into and pull from. This is a sort of federal insurance for the elderly, infirm, and those that were supported by them. This is important for preventing anyone’s family from falling into debt or destitution due to circumstances out of their control. Social security takes a long time to accrue but can be a supplemental income for retirement, as well as provide support to your fellow Americans.