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Retirement benefits are monthly payments from Social Security. These benefits replace a percentage of your pre-retirement income based on your lifetime earnings. The portion of your pre-retirement wages that Social Security replaces is based on your highest 35 years of earnings. This amount varies depending on how much you earn. The amount also varies depending on when you choose to start getting benefits.

When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” toward Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need to get retirement benefits depends on when you were born. If you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (usually, this is 10 years of work).

If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, then the credits will remain on your Social Security record. However, if you return to work later, then more credits may be added. The SSA can’t pay any retirement benefits until you have 40 quarters of earnings on your work record.

You can receive monthly retirement payments if you are eligible for them. You can be eligible for retirement benefits in a number of ways.

retirement benefits


First, you can receive retirement benefits based on your own earnings.

Let’s look at a standard example. A typical worker might start working at the age of 18 and continue working until age 67. During all of those working years, the worker pays taxes from every paycheck to the government. The government then agrees, through the Social Security system, to pay a retirement benefit to that worker. For most people, age 67 is full-retirement age. Therefore, at 67 the worker stops working and the government starts paying the retirement benefit.

You can see from the above example that the worker’s retirement benefit amount will be based on whatever earnings the worker earned during their lifetime. Subsequently, each worker earns different amounts of money. As such, every worker’s retirement benefit is a different monthly amount.

Full retirement age is the age when you can start getting paid your full retirement benefit amount. The full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954. The full retirement age increases gradually if you were born from 1955 to 1960, until it reaches 67. For anyone born 1960 or later, full retirement benefits start at age 67.


Second, you can receive early retirement benefits. You can get retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, the SSA will reduce your benefit if you start getting benefits before your full retirement age. Visit our website to learn how claiming retirement benefits early will affect your benefit amount.


When you delay benefits beyond your full retirement age, the amount of your benefit will continue to increase up until age 70. There is no incentive to delay claiming after age 70.


Even if they have never worked and paid taxes under the Social Security program, your spouse may be eligible for benefits. They need to be at least 62 years of age and you need to be receiving retirement or disability benefits. Your spouse can also qualify for Medicare at age 65. Learn more about Medicare benefits here.

If your spouse qualifies for benefits on their own record, the SSA will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, your spouse will get an additional amount on your record. Therefore, the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.


You can also receive retirement benefits through someone else’s work. For example, if you are divorced, then your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your earnings record (even if you have remarried). This is true if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
  • The ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

If you need to learn more information about divorce and disability benefits, then read here.


If you have not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, your ex-spouse can receive benefits on your record. However, you must be divorced for at least two continuous years.

Your ex is eligible for retirement benefits on their own record. If so, then the SSA will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your record is higher, your ex will get an additional amount on your record. This will make the combination of benefits equal the higher amount.

The amount of benefits your divorced spouse gets has no effect on the amount of benefits you or your current spouse may receive.


When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must:

Benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, then benefits will continue. They continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.

Benefits paid for your child will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits they may receive, when added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be better for you.


You can get Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time. However, if you are younger than your full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, the SSA will reduce your retirement benefit. However, starting with the month you reach your full retirement age, the SSA will not reduce your SSD benefits. This is true, no matter how much you earn.

  • The SSA uses the following earnings limits to reduce your benefits: If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, the SSA deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2022 that limit is $19,560.
  • In the year you reach full retirement age, the SSA deducts $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. But, they only count earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.

If you reach full retirement age in 2022, the limit on your earnings for the months before full retirement age is $51,960. Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you can get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.

Use the SSA’s Retirement Age Calculator to find your full retirement age based on your date of birth.


When the SSA figures out how much to deduct from your benefits, they count only the wages you make from your job. Or, your net earnings if you’re self-employed. The SSA includes bonuses, commissions and vacation pay. They don’t count pensions, annuities, investment income, or interest. Additionally, they don’t count veterans benefits or other government or military retirement benefits.


SSD benefits pay out if you have a severe mental or physical condition that prevents you from working for over one year. However, you can only qualify for SSD benefits if you have 40 quarters of coverage. Or, the equivalent of 40 quarters of coverage if you are at a young age. This means you must work and pay taxes for 10 years.

In addition to paying taxes through work, you must also have a severe disability that prevents you from working. Learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits here.

If you do qualify for SSDI benefits, the SSA pays you a monthly benefit. What most people don’t realize, however, is that your monthly SSDI benefit is the same amount of money as your full retirement benefit. If you need to learn more about the difference between SSDI benefits and retirement benefits, read our article “When Do SSDI Benefits End.”


If you want to learn more about the representatives at Cannon Disability, then read our About Us page. There you will find more information about us. For example, Andria Summers can help you with your Medicare plan. Medicare when you receive disability benefits is the same Medicare you receive at retirement. Ms. Summers can answer your questions.

Dianna Cannon has years of experience representing disability claimants. She has been an attorney for thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has significant experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are experts. You can trust us to help you receive disability benefits.

In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Also, we help our clients optimize their benefits. We give advice about unemployment benefits. Also, we help you with worker’s compensation benefits and offset issues.

If you have issues with retirement and SSDI benefits, then we will walk you through your options. We promise, you do have options. Our specialists can help also you apply for disability benefits.

Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms you will need to fill out. But, don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us for free today.


Cannon Disability helps clients in Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado. Learn about Utah SSD benefits and Nevada SSD benefits here. Additionally, your can learn more about winning benefits in California here. Likewise, you can learn about Colorado SSD benefits here. We also represent clients in Idaho, Wyoming, and Arizona.

If you need help with your benefits, call us. Cannon Disability Law wins Social Security Disability Income and SSI cases. For the past 30 years, we have helped over 20,000 clients win their benefits. We can help you too.

We know you don’t have a job and can’t afford to hire an attorney. Therefore, in all of our SSDI cases, we only charge an attorney fee if we win your case. If we don’t win your benefits, then you don’t owe an attorney fee. We also offer a free review of your case.

You have nothing to lose by calling us. We can often tell you over the phone if we can help. If you live in Utah, Nevada, or Idaho, contact us. Likewise, if you live in California or Colorado, give us a call. You can contact us on the website at Cannon Disability Law. We will put our experience to work for you.

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