Individuals eligible for Social Security benefit payments must have insured status because they or family members earned enough Social Security credits while working. Eligible individuals include people aged 62 and over, the disabled and spouses, children and survivors of those with insured status.
Although eligible individuals can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, they receive lower monthly payments than if they wait until full retirement age of 65 to 67, depending on date of birth. If they delay retirement until the maximum age of 70, they earn delayed retirement credits that increase monthly benefit payments. Social Security disability benefits are for those 18 and over who have medical conditions that do not allow them to work and last at least 12 months or are expected to end in death. The amount of work credits for disability is different than the amount needed for retirement.
Spouses who have not earned Social Security work credits may receive benefit payments due to the work record of their spouse. At full retirement age, a spouse's benefit payments usually amount to half of the full amount the spouse with work credits receives. Children under 18 or up to age 19, if still attending high school, can receive Social Security payments if their eligible parent is retired or disabled. When those eligible for Social Security benefits die, widows, widowers, dependent parents and children may be able to receive survivors benefits.