For most people, it's a significant portion of the income they'll depend on when their paycheck goes away. Many couldn't afford to retire without it.
And yet, retirees often overlook or misunderstand the various rules that can limit their benefits and the claiming strategies that could help them maximize their payments.
This is, in part, because those rules keep changing. We think of Social Security as this sacred thing that has been around for generations. And it is. But it has evolved through the years -- and continues to evolve.
If you're basing your Social Security decisions on something your parents did, or what your neighbor says worked for her, or what you read a couple of years ago, you could be shortchanging yourself. Here are five wise decisions you can make about Social Security right now: