As of 2015, to qualify for Social Security benefits, one must have paid into the Social Security system for at least ten years and be at least 62 years old. Widows and widowers can receive Social Security based on the earning records of their deceased spouses.
Some instances allow for reduced Social Security benefits to be paid out at a younger age. For example, someone who is disabled and unable to work may be able to collect Social Security benefits instead of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. A widow with a small surviving child can draw her deceased spouse's benefits until the surviving child is 16. If a person who delays drawing on his Social Security until after the age of 62 receives a larger monthly payout.
To qualify for Social Security disability payments, the individual must first have worked in a job that paid into the Social Security disability system. The individual must also have a condition that meets the definition of a disability as defined by the Social Security Administration. Anyone who reaches the retirement age while receiving Social Security disability benefits sees their benefits convert to retirement benefits. However, the amount of each payment remains the same.