What is Social Security?

Social Security in America is a system that acts as a safety net for all citizens of the United States. In addition to retirement benefits, those who are disabled, dependent for support upon someone who receives Social Security income, and those who are a widow, widower, or child of someone who has died are eligible for benefits - if they meet the requirements. Whether you are entitled to benefits depends on if your circumstances satisfy the system's requirements. Today, nearly 61 million Americans collect some kind of Social Security benefit.

The basic structure is that when you work, you pay into the system. After you've paid into the system - when you retire or become disabled - you, your spouse, and your children can receive monthly benefits.

On business days between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., you may speak with a service representative by calling 1-800-772-1213 - and information is available over this toll-free line on a 24 hour a day basis if you call from a touch-tone telephone. One of the first questions you will be asked is, "What is your social security number?" - so have it handy when you call. The Social Security Administration advises that the busiest times for this telephone line are at the beginning of each week and the beginning of each month. If you prefer to deal directly with them, the Social Security Administration has about 1,230 offices throughout the United States which you are invited to stop by for a visit.