Social Security provides about 38 percent of the income for the elderly, but most Americans would likely flunk a test on the program's basic details.
Only one person—a retired woman in the South—out of 1,513 surveyed recently by life insurer MassMutual answered all 12 questions right on an elementary test about Social Security retirement benefits. (Tweet This) More than seven out of 10 people received a failing grade.
(Take CNBC's quiz below to see how your Social Security knowledge stacks up.)
"Perhaps the greatest Social Security deficit in this country—and what's lost in today's discussions about Social Security—is how little most Americans even know about this retirement benefit," said Michael Fanning, MassMutual's executive vice president of the U.S. insurance group. "While we didn't expect every person to get 100 percent correct, we certainly hoped that more would receive a passing grade."
Besides not knowing that the full retirement age varies, depending on the year you were born, and that non-U.S. citizens can be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, 55 percent incorrectly said that they can continue working while collecting full Social Security retirement benefits regardless of their age.
While you can work and receive Social Security retirement benefits, if you have not reached full retirement age, your earnings will be subject to a retirement earnings test. If your income exceeds $15,720 for 2015, for example, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit.