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There’s an old joke about the weather: everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. Social Security is a little bit like that: almost everyone is covered by it, but almost no-one takes advantage of all of the tools it has to offer.

Social Security includes three different income programs and one medical program. Social Security Retirement benefits are available to people who have worked for at least 40 quarters (10 years), or who are entitled to benefits based on a spouse’s earnings record. It’s important to remember that for most retirees, Social Security provides less than half of the income they need, so it’s wise to have other sources of retirement income as well.

Social Security Disability provides benefits for “insured” workers who are unable to work. A worker is generally insured for SSDB if they worked at least 5 of the 10 years before they became disabled. The disability must be due to a significant medical condition that prevents the person from doing any work that they are suited for based on their age, education and previous work skills.

Supplemental Security Income provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness who do not have adequate income under Social Security’s standards. SSI payments are also made to non-disabled people over the age 65 who meet the financial qualifications.

Medicare provides health insurance for people over 65 and those who have been receiving Social Security Disability Benefits for at least two years. Medicare Parts A and B covers hospitalization and most routine doctor’s visits. Part C (the Medicare Advantage Plan) covers both of those plus vision, hearing and dental coverage. Part D covers some of the cost of prescription drugs.


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