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What are the three types of Social Security benefits available?

The SSA oversees benefits programs covering more than 70 million Americans who are retired, disabled or otherwise unable to work.

The three types of Social Security benefits

More than 70 million recipients of Social Security support are waiting eagerly to learn the size of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for benefits in 2023. Each year all Social Security beneficiaries get a proportional increase on their payments to ensure that the support remains roughly in line with inflation.

The 2023 increase will be announced by the Social Security Administration (SSA) on Thursday 13 October, but experts are confident that the boost will be well over 8%. This would be a significant increase for recipients and the largest COLA increase since 1981.

The rise will affect the payment of the three main forms of Social Security support: retirement benefits, disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income.

What are Social Security retirement benefits?

More than 52 million of the 70 million who claim Social Security, do so through their retirement benefits. For nearly every worker in the United States, a proportion of their lifetime wages will have been contributed to the Social Security pay pot to ensure that they have a source of income in retirement.

When you reach retirement age, or at least when you start claiming retirement benefits, the SSA will calculate your entitlement from your 35 highest-earning years. The point at which you can claim your maximum payment is known as full entitlement age and it varies between 66 and 67 years old, depending on your year of birth.

Apply for Social Security retirement benefits.

What are Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security also provides payments for those who are unable to work, or whose capacity to work is limited, due to a disability. This program is known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and it provides financial support for both the claimant and certain family members, provided you worked for long enough to fit the ‘insured’ criteria.

Recipients are not able to earn more than $1,350 per month by working and continue to claim SSDI payments. But if they believe they are able to return to the workplace they can embark on a trial work period for up to six months, without losing their existing benefits.

Apply for Social Security disability benefits.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

The third type of Social Security support is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability and who have income and resources below certain thresholds. The support is also available for those aged 65 and over whose financial means place them below the thresholds.

Unlike the previous two forms, SSI is not funded by specific Social Security taxes and is instead funded by general tax revenues. Some states opt to enhance SSI payments for their residents, so the amount on offer varies across the country. Your entitlement is also based on factors such as historic wages, pension status and personal situation.

Apply for Supplemental Security Income.