Social Security

Social Security is a federal program that collects money via taxes to provide benefits to qualified individuals. Learn how to calculate your Social Security benefits and how they differ based on your retirement age, as well as other rules and strategies surrounding Social Security so you can prepare for retirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Social Security?

    Social Security is a federal program that issues benefits to retirees who paid into the program during their working years, people unable to work due to a physical or mental condition, spouses and children of beneficiaries, and surviving family members of beneficiaries. Social Security benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

  • How do you apply for Social Security?

    There are a few ways you can apply for retirement Social Security benefits: Online at, in person at your local Social Security office, or over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213.

  • What is the maximum Social Security benefit?

    For 2021, the maximum Social Security benefit you could receive is $3,895 per month. That is the amount you could receive as of 2021 if you worked 35 or more years at the maximum taxable income level, retired at age 70, and then started collecting Social Security.

  • How does Social Security work?

    Social Security is a system that collects tax money from individuals and businesses to fund monthly benefits for people who are retired, disabled, survivors of workers who have died, or dependents of beneficiaries. The money you pay in taxes is used for people getting benefits now, and anything leftover is held in Social Security trust funds.

  • At what age can you collect Social Security?

    You can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70.

  • How do you apply for Social Security disability benefits?

    After reviewing the Adult Disability Checklist, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits online at through the online portal. You will need to complete and submit a medical release form, and also provide personal information such as your location and date of birth and Social Security number, as well as information about your medical condition and where you work.

  • How is Social Security calculated?

    Four factors are used to calculate your Social Security benefit: how many years you worked, how much you made each year, inflation, and at what age you will begin taking your benefits.

  • How is Social Security taxed?

    If your Social Security benefits are your only source of income, you may not have to pay taxes. However, if you receive other income throughout the year, you may need to pay taxes on a portion of your Social Security benefits. First calculate your combined income. If that total comes to a certain amount, you will need to pay taxes, usually on 50% or 85% of your Social Security benefits.

Key Terms

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Quick Facts: The Social Security Direct Express Debit Card: You’re eligible for the card if you receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits It’s a prepaid card, so you can only use the card if you have funds on your account Use your card to withdraw funds from an ATM or get cash from a Walmart Money Center or Customer Service Desk Sign up at your local Social Security office, by calling the Direct Express hotline at 1-800-333-1795, or by visiting Does not impact your credit
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