Types of Social Security Benefits

A breakdown of four basic categories of Social Security benefits and how they are paid.
Four basic categories of Social Security benefits are paid based upon the record of your earnings: retirement, disability, dependents and survivors benefits.
Retirement Benefits
You may choose to begin receiving retirement benefits at any time after you reach age 62; the amount of benefits will increase for each year you wait until age 70. The increase in delayed benefits varies from 3% to 8%, depending on the year in which you were born. But no matter how long you wait to begin collecting benefits, the amount of you receive will probably be only a small percentage of what you were earning.
Disability Benefits
If you are under 65 but have met the work requirements and are considered disabled under the program's medical guidelines, you can receive benefits roughly equal to what your retirement benefits would be.
Dependents Benefits
If you are the spouse of a retired or disabled worker who qualifies for retirement or disability benefits, you and your minor or disabled children may be entitled to benefits based on the worker's earning record. This is true whether or not you actually depend on your spouse for your support.
Survivors Benefits
If you are the surviving spouse of a worker who qualified for retirement or disability benefits, you and your minor or disabled children may be entitled to benefits based on your deceased spouse's earnings record.