You are eligible for benefits if you are a retired worker who contributed to Social Security while on the job(s), and so are considered insured, or qualified.
The period needed to qualify is spelled out on the Social Security Administration's website. Basically, it requires one quarter of coverage (QC) for each calendar year after you turn 21 and from 6 to 40 QCs (depending on several factors) overall.
Start: Social Security retirement benefits can begin as early as age 62. But the checks could be up to 30% lower than they would be if you wait until full retirement age (FRA) – 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954; then a gradually increasing age until 67, the FRA for those born 1960 and later. Maximum benefits begin at age 70.
End: Your Social Security retirement benefits end when you die.
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