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10 Surprising Social Security Facts

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What you don’t know about social security may surprise you.

Download a PDF version of our Social Security Facts infographic.

10 Surprising Social Security Facts infographic


Social Security refers to benefits provided by a part of the Social Security System called Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI). Benefits are paid to people when they retire or become disabled and to spouses, children, and parents of a deceased worker. Funding for Social Security comes from payroll taxes paid by covered employees, employers, and people who are self-employed. Here are 10 important facts about Social Security that you may not know:

  1. Social Security works on a point system. To get Social Security benefits, you need 40 credits (most people earn about four credits per year) or you need to have earned at least six credits within the last 13 calendar quarters.
  2. If you are accruing Social Security credits, you will receive a paper statement every five years before your birthday (age 25, 30, 35, 40…up to 60). If you would like to review yours, you can request a copy any time at
  3. Age 62 is generally the earliest you can receive Social Security retirement benefits and you can increase your benefits by delaying retirement or receipt of Social Security benefits up to age 70.
  4. If you retire at age 62 but continue to work and make more than your “annual exempt amount,” you will lose some of your hard-earned benefits. However, once your reach full retirement age, you can work all you want and you will not be penalized.
  5. In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have 40 credits or have earned at least 20 credits during five out of the ten years directly prior to becoming disabled.
  6. Social Security Survivors benefits are only paid to the parent of a child until the child reaches 16. These benefits are paid to the child until they reach the age of 18.
  7. Up to 85% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable if one-half of your Social Security benefits PLUS your modified adjusted gross income exceed a certain threshold.
  8. Once you begin receiving retirement benefits, they don’t change, other than annual “cost-of-living” adjustments.
  9. Social Security benefits have a maximum family benefit, which means that your spouse or dependent children will receive less when your total benefits exceed a certain limit.
  10. According to research conducted by the Federal government, Social Security retirement benefits comprise more than one-third of the income of Americans age 65 or older.
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VSECU is a member-owned cooperative and not for profit credit union for everybody who lives or works in Vermont, offering a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member-owners. VSECU is committed to improving the lives of Vermonters by empowering possibilities for greater social, environmental, and financial prosperity.

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