November 21, 2018




Social Security was created by Congress in the Social Security Act of 1935.  Due to the industrial revolution and the rise of urban populations to work in factories, the traditional structure of the extended family disappeared.  The nuclear family of parents and children became the norm.

The Social Security Administration explained that “the advantage of the extended family was that when a family member became too old or infirm to work, the other family members assumed responsibility for their support.  Following the outbreak of the Great Depression, poverty among the elderly grew dramatically. The best estimates are that in 1934 over half of the elderly in America lacked sufficient income to be self-supporting.”

There were some states that had social welfare programs, but those were poorly run and distributed very little, if any, benefits.  This is where the federal government stepped in.  Today there are over 50 million individuals receiving Social Security retirement benefits.

Retirement Ages

As an individual works, that person pays Social Security taxes and earns credits toward Social Security benefits.  Credits are earned quarterly for a total of four per year.  In order to receive benefits, an individual must have 40 credits or 10 years of work.  Benefits will only be paid if an individual has attained 40 credits.

The age of retirement was originally set at 65, but now full retirement age has risen. The ages are:

Age to receive full Social Security benefits

Year of birth Full retirement age
1943-1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67

From the Social Security Retirement Benefits booklet

Individuals can get Social Security benefits at age 62, but those benefits will be reduced by about 25 percent until that individual reaches their full retirement age.  Individuals can also postpone receiving benefits until age 70.

Social Security’s Benefits for Family

It is possible for family members to receive benefits.  Spouses of retirees can receive benefits if they are 62 or older or if the spouse is younger than 62 and caring for a child of the retiree younger than 16.  Children of retirees can only receive benefits if they are age 19 or younger and are full-time students in high school or lower school level or if the child is disabled.

The Social Security program limits on total amount of family benefits.  In general, if one has elgible children then they will receive up to half of the retiree’s benefit.  Yet there is a limit on the total benefit paid to the family.  That limit is usually around 150 to 180 percent of the total that the retiree could have received.  Therefore, those with larger families may receive less per individual if the overall total exceeds the cap.

If you have questions about Social Security and your benefits, contact our knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorneys today. You have only 60 days to appeal a denial of benefits; for information, call us without delay. We have offices in Broward County- Fort Lauderdale; Miami-Dade County- North Miami Beach; Monroe County- Key West and Islamorada. Call 800-803-5555.