Your 2019 Guide to Social Security Benefits

Social Security is a vital source of income for millions of American retirees, as it makes up more than half of all income for the majority of retired households.

Unfortunately, Social Security isn't well-understood by many Americans. And by fully understanding the Social Security program, you'll be in a better position to maximize your benefits and make smart financial decisions for you and your family. With that in mind, whether you're already collecting Social Security benefits, approaching retirement age, or still in the middle of your career, here's a comprehensive guide to Social Security benefits in 2019.

Who is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits? 

To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you'll need to earn 40 quarters of coverage, also known as Social Security "credits."

Here's how this works. In 2019, you can earn one credit by earning $1,360 in Social Security-taxable income. This amount is adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. In any given calendar year, you can earn up to four credits. So, to make a long story short, in order to qualify for retirement benefits based on your own work record, you'll typically need to earn the 2019 equivalent of $5,440 for at least 10 calendar years.

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