Most people are ignorant about the basics of Social Security even though many will rely heavily on it for retirement, said GoBankingRates, a financial research and educational website.

The lack of knowledge and the complexity of Social Security rules mean many consumers cannot wade through Social Security without the assistance of a financial advisor, according to William Meyer, CEO of Social Security Solutions, a research and education source based in Overland Park, Kan., that helps advisors and consumers make Social Security decisions.

GoBankingRates asked 1,000 people six questions about Social Security and 96% did not achieve a passing grade of 60% correct. Social Security, which turned 84 years old in August, will be pay benefits to 64 million people this year.

Participants in the quiz were asked to say whether the statement that Social Security benefits could be started anytime between the ages of 60 and 72 was true or false. Only 24% knew the answer was false. The majority thought it was true or they said they did not know. Benefits can be started between 62 and 70.

In addition, only 39% knew the average benefit is now between $1.000 and $2,000 a month. The majority answered with lower or higher figures.

Many respondents did not know a disabled person can receive Social Security benefits, that spouses can receive benefits, and that a person can work while receiving benefits, GoBankingRates said.

How much, or how little, a person knows about Social Security can have a huge impact on post-retirement finances. “That’s especially true if you’re among the approximately 50% of households age 55 or older who have no retirement savings,” the study said.

“Many Americans are largely in the dark about Social Security,” said Andrew DePietro, a researcher with GoBankingRates. “It is unsettling that many people do not know they will need supplemental income in addition to Social Security to live well in retirement, or they think benefits will be higher than they are.”

Meyer said, “People trying to figure Social Security out on their own will never be able to do it. Social Security has 20,000 pages of rules, [which makes it] too complicated. This is as prime opportunity for financial advisors. If consumers try to figure it out on their own, they risk making costly mistakes.”

Social Security Solutions provides guidelines and interactive tools for researching Social Security options, but Meyer still recommends people nearing retirement consult a financial advisor for additional help.

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