Social Security offers a variety of benefits when you need them.

Retirement—by far the most widely utilized benefit. Most people need about 10 years of work (40 credits) to qualify for retirement benefits. You can retire as early as age 62 (generally, benefits are permanently reduced) or wait until full retirement age (currently age 66, but gradually increasing to age 67) for a larger benefit payment. Put off retirement and earn even more.

Disability—if you become disabled and unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The number of credits needed depends on how old you are when you become disabled.

Survivors—in the unfortunate event of your early demise, your family may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. In most cases, you need to have worked about 10 years for your surviving family members to qualify for survivors benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—this needs-based program pays benefits to aged, blind, and disabled people with low income and few resources.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: