Social Security deductions (FICA and Medicare) are made from your paycheck. These taxes, plus an equal amount contributed by the College, are sent to the Social Security Administration to help provide for your retirement. The Federal Government administers the Social Security program to help employees prepare for their retirement years.


  Your eligibility for Social Security benefits depends on how long you have been employed at jobs in which you paid FICA taxes-in other words, how much time you have spent in positions "covered" by Social Security deductions. In general, if you have 40 "quarters" of coverage, you are considered to be fully insured and may be entitled to receive a benefit as early as age 62. You can earn up to four quarters of coverage every year, up to a maximum of 40 quarters. You earn a quarter of coverage by earning a stated amount of wages covered by Social Security deductions. This amount is adjusted by the Social Security Administration to reflect increases in national wages.

Earnings Record

  There is a limit on the amount of your salary that the Social Security Administration may tax each year. This means that there is a maximum amount that you can contribute through FICA taxes. Your benefit depends on how much money you earned which was taxed by Social Security. This amount is known as your earnings record. Your earnings record determines the amounts of the various benefits you can receive.


  Many people choose to retire and start receiving their Social Security benefits at age 65. It is possible, however, for you to begin receiving a reduced benefit at age 62, depending on your circumstances. Monthly benefits received at age 62 would be lower than those given at age 65 to reflect the extra three years of payment. You can also postpone the start of your benefits until age 70. In this case, your monthly benefits would be greater, since payments will be distributed over a shorter period of time than they would have been if you had retired at 65.

Other Social Security Benefits

  In addition to the benefits you receive from Social Security, there are certain benefits available for eligible dependents. If you are age 65 or over and are receiving benefits, your spouse may be eligible for his or her own benefit, based on a percentage of your payment. Your unmarried, dependent children and certain adult, disabled children may also be entitled to certain benefits based on your Social Security earnings. There are also benefits available in the event of your death or disability. Eligibility for these additional benefits may depend on your age and quarters of coverage.

Applying for Benefits

  Generally, you must apply for benefits in person at a Social Security Office. It is a good idea to apply for retirement benefits at least six months in advance of your retirement. This gives the government time to process your application. A nice feature of your Social Security benefit is that you may ask that your monthly check be deposited directly into your bank account. This is a secure and simple way to receive your money.
This is just a brief outline of some aspects of your Social Security benefit. Available benefits and required quarters can vary greatly, depending on your age, the ages of your dependents, your periods of employment and your earnings record.