This is the first in a three-part series on social security and its impact on farmers and ranchers.

If you own or manage a farm, ranch, orchard, or other place where you grow fruits, vegetables, or flowers for sale, you should know what you’re paying for with your Social Security and Medicare taxes. You should also know how to report your income to Social Security and why it’s important that you do so.

Workers are entitled to Social Security benefits based on how much income they’ve earned and reported to us. That’s why it’s so important to accurately report all income and wages.

Your Social Security and Medicare taxes pay for:

Retirement insurance — Benefits paid every month to retired workers as early as age 62.

Disability insurance — Benefits paid every month to workers of all ages who have a severe disability. Sometimes, a young worker may qualify for a disability benefit with as little as one-and-a-half years of work.

Family insurance — Benefits paid every month to the spouse and children of retired or disabled workers.

Survivors insurance — Benefits paid every month to the widow or widower and children of a deceased worker. Sometimes, a young deceased worker’s family can get these benefits when the worker only had one-and-a-half years of work.

Medicare insurance — Help with hospital bills, as well as limited coverage of skilled nursing facility stays, hospice care, and other medical services.

Accurate wage reporting is for more than taxes. It helps us decide who’s eligible for Social Security, and how much they and their families can receive. That’s why we always stress the importance of making sure that Social Security has the right name, Social Security number, and earnings for you.

Make sure you get credit for your own earnings. Owner-operators, partners, landlords who take an active role in the farm operation, tenants, renters, and share farmers are all covered under Social Security. Next time, we’ll talk about various types of farm arrangements, and how to report earnings.