Social Security benefits are streams of income available for retired workers, their spouses, children and dependents, and survivors. It provides insurance against longevity, disability, and, to some extent, the death of the primary contributor.
Social Security benefits are available to a worker and their dependents if the worker has triggered eligibility, which usually calculated as earning over $5,040 for 10 years, but is modified if the worker dies or is disabled at a young age. Benefits can be paid to multiple people within a household (and an ex-spouse) based on one worker’s contributions to the system, up to a Maximum Family Limit, which is somewhere between 150-180% of a worker’s full benefit amount.
Spouses and dependents can be included before or after the death of the worker. Ex-spouses are not included in the Maximum Family Benefit, and they can only claim spousal benefits if they were married to the “worker” for 10 years or more.
Social Security Disability provides disability income to those workers who paid into the system though FICA taxes. Disability benefits (SSD) can be paid to disabled adults if they were disabled prior to age 22. (SSD qualifications — found here)
There is also Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is administered by the Social Security Administration, which pays income to impoverished people who are blind, disabled, or elderly. SSI benefits do not come out of the general social security funds, however, so it is not a true Social Security benefit. (SSI eligibility requirements — found here)
Medicare is also partly administered by the Social Security Administration, which provides hospital coverage for Americans over age 65. Medicare taxes are part of FICA taxes, but the Social Security funds are kept separate from the Medicare funds.
What are Medicare Benefits?
How are My Retirement Benefits Computed?
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