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Social Security is a social insurance program and one of the primary sources of retirement income for most Americans.
Funded by a payroll tax that workers and employers both pay into, Social Security provides guaranteed benefits to qualified retired workers at rates based on the average earnings during the 35 years they earned the most.
What caregivers need to know about Social Security
- Social Security retirement benefits can be taken as early as age 62, but full benefits cannot be taken until reaching “full retirement age.” That is age 65 for people born before 1937, and climbs to 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954, then up to 67 for anyone born after 1959.
- A person whose full retirement age is 66 would receive benefits at 75% of their full rate if they begin collecting at age 62 and 93.3% if they start collecting at 65, while someone whose full retirement age is 67 would receive just 70% of their full benefit rate at 62 and 86.7% at 65. The rate received when you first get benefits sets the base for the amount you will receive for the rest of your life.
- In addition to the traditional retirement, there are other Social Security programs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides monthly payments to people who have low income and few resources who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. Disabled and blind children can also receive SSI.
- There is also Social Security Disability Income that pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. There are provisions for certain family members of disabled workers to receive money from Social Security as well.
What MetroWest caregivers need to know
In Massachusetts alone, there were 1,314,173 beneficiaries of Social Security receiving $1,459,094,000 worth of monthly benefits as of September, 2013. Another 186,556 Massachusetts residents receive $94,504,000 in monthly Supplemental Security benefits each month.
There are 29 Social Security field offices in Massachusetts, which along with Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont is part of the Social Security Administration's Boston Region.
The main office for the Boston Region is located in the Tip O'Neill Federal Building (10 Causeway Street, Room 148, Boston, MA 02222-1098), while there is one field office located in MetroWest:
Address: 100 Concord Street, Suite 2A
Framingham, MA 01702
That is the only office located within the 25 towns of MetroWest, but there are several other offices nearby in Waltham (135 Beaver Street, Suite 120), Worcester (Madison Place, 51 Myrtle Street) and Norwood (1 Edgewater Drive, Suite 102).
Applications for Social Security disability are taken in these local field offices, but the medical decisions are made by a disability determination service in each state. For Massachusetts, after filing an application for disability you can mail your medical information to:
Disability Determination Services
110 Chauncey Street
Boston, MA 02111
Disability Determination Services
340 Main Street, Suite 500
Worcester, MA 01608
Further information about Social Security in Massachusetts can be found on the Boston Region's website or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
Related information and additional web resources
- The best place is to go to the source itself. The Social Security Administration’s official website provides information on the various Social Security programs, a way to calculate projected benefits and links to forms, among other features.
- The National Academy of Social Insurance, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, also provides an in-depth primer on Social Security [PDF].
- Beyond the web, consulting an elder law attorney or financial planner could be worthwhile in helping to decide when to begin taking benefits and planning for your care recipient’s retirement.