Retirement benefits are the most basic and best understood in the Social Security program, but it’s worth going over the basics anyway. You are eligible for your benefits if you meet the following requirements. You must be at least sixty-two years old or older. You have to have worked and paid Social Security taxes on your wages and/or your self-employment income for at least ten years, thereby accumulating forty credits of work. You are entitled to a monthly payment for the rest of your life.

If you take your retirement benefits early, they will be reduced forever. They will also be reduced for your survivors. We will discuss full retirement age and early benefits in the last chapter of this guide. Other individuals can draw Social Security benefits based on your work record, but they have to meet certain eligibility requirements that will be explained in the following sections.