Social Security and Medicare are cornerstones of what is sometimes called America’s “safety net.” These federal programs were never intended to fund a lavish retirement lifestyle or the most expensive health-care services. Rather, they were created to provide a basic level of support for older people who have left the workforce. Although the programs have been expanded to include other beneficiaries, their primary focus is on older Americans. Despite the limited nature of Social Security and Medicare, the benefits can be invaluable. Whether you are already eligible or will be in the future, it might be wise to consider the basic options and potential strategies that could help you obtain the benefits that are most appropriate for your personal situation. Here’s a brief overview of both programs. Most of the information contained herein comes from the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. More information can be found at socialsecurity.gov and medicare.gov.