The United States government offers several entitlement programs through the Social Security Administration that pay citizens when certain conditions are met. These programs include Social Security, Social Security Disability and Supplement Security Income benefits. The purposes of these programs widely varies and includes offering a minimal standard of living and wage, protecting disabled individuals and helping people live during retirement.
Social Security retirement benefits are a part of approximately 96 percent of worker retirement plans. The remaining 4 percent of workers either opt out of the system through state retirement systems or do not work enough to qualify for benefits over their lifetime. Each pay period the government takes funds from a worker's paycheck and adds it to the Social Security trust fund. These funds are then used to pay a worker a monthly check after he has reached a certain age. You must earn at least 40 work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. An individual earns one credit for every $1,120 earned from working in 2010. This number is adjusted for inflation each year. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year, meaning you need to have worked for at least 10 years to earn your benefits. The age at which you can earn your Social Security benefits depends on when you were born. The ages range from 66 for those who were born between 1943 and 1954 up to age 67 for those who were born in 1960 or later.
The United States government also offers Social Security disability benefits. The government defines a person as disabled when you cannot do the type of work you previously did, you cannot adjust to a different type of work and your disability is expected to last at least one year or end in your death. You must also have qualified for enough Social Security work credits, the same as you do for Social Security benefits. The younger you are when you become disabled the lower the amount of credits you must have to qualify. For example, a 42-year-old only needs 20 credits while a 58-year-old must have 36 credits to be able to receive disability benefits. The amount of your disability payment is determined by a formula that factors in your age and number of credits earned. The benefits continue until the earliest of you not being disabled anymore, dying or turning an age where you can qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. If you qualify for retirement benefits your disability payments automatically convert over to permanent payments for the duration of your life.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are made to individuals who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. You must earn under a certain amount of income, the amount of which is determined by whether you are married or single and which state you live in. If you have more than one home, one car, life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or more and any burial plots for people beyond your immediate family you cannot qualify. You can receive SSI benefits along with any other Social Security benefits you are also entitled to.