Since 1935, US workers have “paid it forward” to ensure that the elderly, orphans, the widowed, and the disabled have a modest pension. Payroll taxes on current workers, the Social Security trust fund, and taxes on wealthy retirees provide nearly a trillion dollars of benefits a year. If you work in the USA and are a citizen or an adequately documented immigrant, Social Security exists to ensure you and your family against poverty in old age and disability.
Currently, the average monthly Social Security pension for a retired person is $1,404/month; for a disabled person is $1,234/month; and for survivors (widows, widowers, orphans, dependent parents) is $1,152/month. The longer one works (until 70) and the higher one’s pay, the greater one’s retirement pension. Under current rules, Social Security benefits are fully funded until 2034.
To qualify for social security, a US citizen or legal immigrant must work and pay into the system through a payroll tax. He or she must earn over $1,000 per quarter (of a year). Usually, 40 quarters of work (about ten years) get him or her into the Social Security system and provide pensions for retired workers, their survivors, and disabled workers when (and if) needed.
NEW FOR 2019:
• In 2019, the full age of retirement, currently 66, will be reached by those born in 1953. See the graduated changes in full age of retirement here.
• All pensioners receive a raise this year of 2.8%. It offsets some of their cost of living.
• Payroll taxes of 12.4% now cover $132,900 of a worker’s income, an increase in taxable income of $4,500 from last year.
• Maximum monthly paycheck at full retirement age increases from $2,788 to $2,861.
• People who were working while drawing a Social Security pension before their full retirement age will pay the penalty now on earnings over $3,910/month.
• The disabled may now earn up to $1,220/month before their benefits are stopped. (The legally blind may now earn up to $2,040/month.)
• This year, it gets a little harder to qualify for benefits. Current workers must earn at least $1,360 in one quarter to earn a work credit.
To find out more about your benefits within Social Security, visit your local Social Security office.