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Tips to help you understand the Social Security benefits you may qualify for.

The Social Security fund is made up of the Social Security Taxes and the Medicare Taxes that were deducted from your paychecks. Your employers also paid a matching amount. If you were self employed then you paid both of these taxes.

Work Credits

The amount you receive as a social security check when you retire is based on your average earnings during your working years. During these years you earned one credit for every nine hundred and seventy dollars in wages. When your yearly earnings had reached three thousand eight hundred and eighty dollars the Social Security office gave you four credits for that year. At least forty credits are required to qualify for retirement benefits. Most working people have earned enough credits to qualify.

Lower Wage Earners

It's common knowledge that in past years women have earned considerably less wages than men. Therefore, the payments for women are lower. There are circumstances in which the payment for a single woman will be based on the higher wages of a husband or in some cases an ex-husband. There are specific rules concerning this and the Social Security office will calculate these figures to give you the highest amount possible.

Minimum Payments

There is no flat rate minimum, it must be based on your earnings or a spouses earnings. The Social Security office will not issue a payment of less than one dollar and there must be at least forty credits accumulated on the account from which the payment is based.

Social Security Statements

If you do not receive a yearly statement from the Social Security office, usually just before your birthday, you can request a copy of your earnings record through the online website. You should check this record and make sure it is correct.