The final three months of the year are generally the busiest at Social Security offices throughout the country as many people look to retire at the end of the year.

So whether you are one of the lucky ones to be "clocking out" of the workforce and enjoying a well-earned retirement, or have many years to go, it's important that everyone have a good understanding of Social Security and what a vital role it plays in nearly every American's life.

Below is a brief quiz to test your knowledge about the program. When you're finished, I think you'll see just how much Social Security benefits America.

If you are an average wage earner, how much of your pre-retirement earnings will Social Security replace?

A. About 20 percent

B. About 40 percent

C. About 70 percent

In 1940, a 65-year-old male could expect to live another 12 years, but today it is:

A. 10 years

B. 12 years

C. 16 years

D. 25 years

How many years of earnings will your basic Social Security retirement benefit be based on?

A. Your last 10 years of earnings

B. Your highest 3 years of earnings

C. Your highest 35 years of earnings

How much is the average Social Security benefit?

A. About $507

B. About $1,079

C. About $1,201

D. About $2,024

If you don't retire at your full retirement age, will your eventual benefit be higher?

A. Yes, your benefit will increase.

B. No, your benefit amount is final once your reach full retirement age.

How many baby boomers are expected to reach retirement age through the next 20 years?

A. About 20 million

B. About 50 million

C. About 80 million

How many people currently receive Social Security benefits?

A. About 20 million

B. About 50 million

C. About 80 million

What percentage of unmarried/widowed women age 65 or older rely on Social Security as their only source of income?

A. 5 percent

B. 10 percent

C. 20 percent

D. 30 percent


Questions for this column should be mailed to "Social Security Matters" Attn: James Feyerherm, 1212 E. 27th, Hays KS 67601. All names will be held confidential. Other questions should be directed to (800) 772-1213 or call or visit your local Social Security office. You can also access SSA online at

James Feyerherm is district manager of the Hays Social Security Office.