One of the most common questions we receive is whether or not private retirement benefits play a role in Social Security benefits. The answer is yes—and no. Let’s explain.
Title 2 Benefits
In one respect, Social Security doesn’t care if you are a millionaire or are struggling to make ends meet. If you have worked, you likely have paid Social Security taxes on your wages. If you pay into Social Security a minimum amount of quarters, in a year, you will be eligible for Title 2 benefits. Again, if you made $8.00 an hour or much more, you are qualified for Title 2 benefits if you are found disabled. If you have nothing in private retirement (most Americans, unfortunately, are in this category) or have millions in retirement, you will still be eligible for Title 2 benefits under the requirement that you are found disabled.
Under Title 2 benefits, whenever you are found disabled, you will able to receive benefits regardless of private retirement benefits. Likewise, when you achieve a certain age, you are able to draw Social Security regardless of your private retirement benefits or any other assets.
Remember, you have paid into your Social Security. Every paycheck you received, Social Security taxes were withdrawn.
Supplemental Security Income
There is one instance where private retirement benefits could affect whether or not you receive a certain form of Social Security benefits. If you fall into a category whereby you are only eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, under Title 16, then private retirement benefits could be a factor that would prevent you from receiving benefits from Social Security. This will typically be an unlikely situation but is a potential depending on how distant your last employment.
SSI is a form of disabled benefits, but because of a lack of payment into the Social Security system, either due to too distant work history or lack of work history, one is only eligible for Supplemental Security Income, a set amount of benefit for everyone in the United States who is awarded SSI benefits.
In this unlikely scenario, if you qualify for SSI benefits, but still happen to have a great amount of assets and retirement income, you might not be awarded your SSI benefits amount. SSI benefits are in one respect, welfare, and the Social Security Administration will not typically pay out these benefits if the individual has substantial assets and/or retirement benefits.
This is a general conversation. The Social Security Act and procedures are very complex and one should consult an attorney with further questions regarding your potential claim.
Contact a Social Security Attorney
At Russell and Hill, PLLC, we represent social security claimants in front of an administrative law judge and, at times, in Federal Court on appeal. We have experienced attorneys who are able to represent you in the often complex and confusing process. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.