What retirement benefits are available through the Social Security Administration?

Looking to retire soon? The Social Security Administration is the place to go for answers about the amount of retirement benefits that you can receive, the age at which you can receive those benefits, and whether you should continue to work at this point in your life.

By visiting any local Social Security office, you can get information that you may need in order to answer these and other questions that you have about retirement benefits.

The amount of retirement benefits you are entitled to receive from Social Security is based in large part on the age at which you choose to retire, as well as your work record at the date of your retirement. While you can opt to begin receiving retirement benefits at age 62, you will not be eligible for full retirement benefits until a later age, which varies according to the year in which you were born. There are also certain circumstances where your spouse and/or children may be entitled to Social Security benefits based on your work record. However, these benefits may be reduced or not available if you elect to start receiving retirement benefits prior to your full retirement age.

Plus, if you continue to work past full retirement age, you may be eligible to receive an even higher amount of monthly benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, you can work and earn as much as you want, and still receive your full retirement benefits. If you haven't reached full retirement age yet, then your retirement benefits may be reduced by the amount of money that you are earning at work.

Whenever you choose to begin receiving retirement benefits, or whatever your retirement age, though, you should be sure to apply for Medicare benefits three months before you turn 65. Otherwise, your Medicare benefits may be delayed, or you may be charged higher premiums. Since Medicare is likely to be essential to your life after retirement, it is important to keep this deadline in mind as you plan for retirement.

Medicare can provide you with hospital coverage, medical insurance, and prescription drug coverage. There are also Medicare Advantage plans through which you can receive medical care at designated provider organizations in certain areas. Most people become eligible for free Medicare hospital coverage when they turn 65, with some exceptions. Other people can become eligible for such coverage by paying a monthly premium. If you're eligible for free Medicare hospital coverage, then you also eligible for Medicare medical insurance if you pay a monthly premium. Also, if you have either hospital and/or medical coverage, you can pay an additional monthly premium for Medicare prescription drug coverage.

If you can't afford to pay the monthly premiums for Medicare medical insurance and/or prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for assistance with these costs through state programs. So, be sure to check with your state or local medical assistance agency, or Medicaid agency, to see if your state has such a program available to you, and, if so, to see if you qualify for benefits under that program.

You can apply for both retirement benefits and Medicare coverage online at www.ssa.gov, in person at your local Social Security office, or by phone.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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