Social Security is perhaps the best-known and most popular benefit system provided by our federal government. For most American workers, it is an essential component of their retirement income, especially as traditional company pension benefits are reduced or eliminated. Although the concept of Social Security is quite simple (workers contribute a portion of their earnings to a trust fund, and that trust fund provides retirement benefits once they reach a certain age), the details of the program can be very complex. As a result, many participants either fail to take full advantage of available benefits, or they are caught by surprise when those benefits are lower than expected. Here are a few of those important details that everyone should know.