In 1935, the Social Security Act was established to support the elderly. Today, part of the program also includes disability and survivor benefits for qualified individuals. A worker is eligible for benefits if he meets specific requirements.
To receive retirement benefits, a worker must have at least 10 years of employment and 40 credits. As of September 2010, a worker born after 1929 receives credits for every $1,120 he earns, up to four credits a year. A worker cannot receive benefits until he is 62 or older.
When a wage earner dies, his spouse, children and parents can be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits. A divorced spouse can receive payments if the couple was married for 10 years or if she is raising the deceased’s children. If the wage earner provided 50 percent of his parents' support, the parents are eligible for benefits.
A worker diagnosed with a medical condition that prevents him from working can collect Social Security disability benefits. He must have a medical condition that will last at least one year or will result in death. He must also meet earning requirements in order to receive payments.