What Criteria Determine Social Security Eligibility?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
A Social Security benefits application.
A Social Security benefits application.

Social Security is a welfare and insurance program that typically benefits disabled, unemployed, or elderly people. Many countries have their own version of these programs, each geared toward ensuring the healthy existence of those who cannot work due to physical or economic circumstances. The criteria for Social Security eligibility vary considerably from country to country, but most take into account several common factors.

In most countries, Social Security eligibility requires a few basic standards. All applicants must be citizens of the country to which they are applying for benefits, for instance. Most Social Security programs are paid through taxes levied on income and other transactions. A citizen of the country will likely have paid into the Social Security system through taxes for their entire working life. Most countries believe that it is only fair that those who have paid into the system should be able to apply for benefits.

One of the most common Social Security eligibility criteria is age. Most countries with a Social Security plan feature some services designed to help the elderly who can no longer perform their jobs safely or in a manner that allows them to remain competitive with younger workers. Some countries have a set age to determine eligibility for retirement Social Security benefits, whereas other programs may be based on the industry in which the person worked and how old he or she was upon retiring. In the United States, for instance, railroad retirement benefits serve as a Social Security program for people who worked for railway companies, but the benefits and income may change depending on the person's age at retirement.

Disability caused by age, illness, or pre-existing condition may be another important factor in determining Social Security eligibility. Most programs include some form of health insurance, which may offer more or less benefits to those with disabilities. Some government agencies will require proof of disability in the form of medical records or testimony from medical professionals. Disabilities such as psychological disorders may not always qualify a person for additional benefits; check carefully with the Social Security agency for details about what conditions do or do not qualify.

Upon requesting Social Security benefits, applicants may be given several forms to fill out that outline some of the Social Security eligibility requirements. Typical questions include age, citizenship status, family size, marital status, work history, and health status. Some programs may also be extended to military or government personnel, so be certain to mention civil or military service if applicable. These forms, which are usually available online or at Social Security agencies, can help determine status and explain what qualifications are required for each available program.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

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Discussion Comments


Moldava-You know I heard that there is talk that they might push the Social Security eligibility requirements to age 70.

I think that it might be better to privatize Social Security in order to obtain higher gains. For example, if you have at least 15 years before retirement you can place your account in a mutual fund that might earn an average of seven to eight percent over the term which is significantly more than what the government would offer.

In addition, they would not have to delay benefits. Seniors about to retire can keep their funds safe in a government bond that would expire when they retire.


GreenWeaver-I know that Social Security eligibility spouse is based on the contribution that the deceased spouse made.

When my mother died, my father received spousal contributions that were equally to what she was receiving. Usually they do cut benefits and do not allow you to double dip.

So my father received my mother’s benefits that were higher, but had to let go of his benefits that were lower. Social Security Medicare eligibility also comes at retirement age, but you have to enroll.


Comfyshoes and Anon66873- I agree this was a great article.

I think that Social Security disability eligibility is intended for people that are unable to work and need financial assistance as a result.

Social Security provides a provision in order to offer these people that are disabled the ability to collect a monthly stipend based on their entire contribution history or income.

Usually when applying for Social Security disability benefits it is best to seek a disability lawyer that can make a case on your behalf.

Many people that apply get declined initially, and often have to reapply to obtained benefits. This is what a friend of mine did and finally got results. It is not always easy dealing with the government.


Social Security income is a small annuity that retirees receive when they reach retirement age.

There are varying ages for Social Security income eligibility. Most retirees can receive benefits at age 62, but these benefits are usually 60% of what the Social Security benefits would be at full retirement age of 65 or 67.

There are different timetables for benefits based on when you were actually born. Social Security retirement was set up by the FDR administration in order to provide a safety net for Americans in their later years.

The financial instability of the Great Depression was the motivation for this benefit program.


thank you. this helps me a lot.

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    • A Social Security benefits application.
      By: gunnar3000
      A Social Security benefits application.