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We're Invested

Retirement, investments, financial planning for every stage of life—learn about it all here at Invested,
a blog from your Wealth Management Advisors at Kirtland Financial Services.

3 Components of Social Security

By Kirtland Financial Services

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You may have heard Social Security retirement benefits referred to as part of the triad of retirement support that includes Social Security, a pension or defined-benefit plan and personal savings.1 The idea is that with these three sources of income, a retiree hopes for three income streams without relying too heavily on just one.

Moreover, the Social Security program also has three important components: Retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivors’ benefits. Learn more about these three components and their benefits.

Social Security Retirement Benefits

A whopping 97% of older adults (between ages 60 and 89) are either already receiving Social Security benefits or may receive them at full retirement age (FRA)2. FRA is age 67 for those born in 1960 and later and age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, while it is between 66 and 67 for those born from 1955 to 1959.3

Some elect to draw their benefits early (at age 62). Others prefer to wait until age 70, when their benefits are at the highest level possible. As of January 2022, the average Social Security retirement benefit payment was around $1,614 per month.4

The amount of your Social Security benefits depends on a few factors:

  • Your age when you first begin drawing Social Security benefits
  • How much you earned during your entire career
  • The number of years worked during your entire career


The higher your income, the longer you worked, and the later you claim your benefits, the higher your total benefit amount will be.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Another component of the Social Security program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is for workers who contributed enough into the system to qualify for Social Security retirement but may not yet be at retirement age when they become disabled. SSI is for those who have never been able to work or who have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI or Social Security retirement.2

Like Social Security retirement, SSDI is available to anyone who has paid into the Social Security program and then becomes disabled. Unlike SSDI, SSI is means-tested. Those with more than $2,000 in “countable assets” (or more than $3,000 for a couple) may not receive SSI benefits.4

Social Security Survivors' Benefits

The Social Security program has a mechanism to provide ongoing benefits to a surviving spouse taking care of children and to children with a parent or parents who died before they could begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits. The calculated basis for these survivor benefits is the amount the worker would have received had they retired early. The monthly survivors’ benefits continue until the youngest child graduates high school (or two months after they turn 19, whichever comes first).5

To learn more about the Social Security benefits that may be available to you, create and use a My Social Security account, which provides information on your earnings history, potential disability benefits, potential retirement benefits, and possible survivors’ benefits.

1 The 3-Legged Stool of Retirement Planning, The Balance,
https://www.thebalance.com/three-legged-stool-of-retirement-2894310

2 Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts about Social Security, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,
https://www.cbpp.org/research/social-security/top-ten-facts-about-social-security

3 Retirement Benefits, Social Security Administration,
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10035.pdf

4 SPOTLIGHT ON RESOURCES — 2022 Edition, Social Security Administration,
https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-resources.htm

5 Benefits for Children, Social Security Administration,
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10085.pdf

6 Create your personal my Social Security account today, Social Security Administration,
https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/

Content in this material is for educational and general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

LPL Tracking # 1-05295490

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