Social Security is a federal government program that provides a source of retirement income for you and your spouse, if you qualify for benefits.
During their working years, all Americans pay Social Security taxes. That tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to those who are currently retired, to people with disabilities, and to the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died. The expectation is that, once you retire, the trust fund will also provide retirement benefits to you as well.
You qualify for Social Security retirement benefits by earning “credits” every time you pay Social Security tax on your earnings, and can earn up to four credits per year. It takes 40 lifetime credits to qualify for benefits.
Your personal retirement benefit is based on factors including lifetime earnings, retirement age, and marital status. And, don’t forget, your Social Security benefits may be taxed, depending on your overall income and state you reside in.