Social Security is a complicated program, but you can't afford not to know everything you should about your benefits. But it can be hard to get the information you need in order to make informed decisions about Social Security.

In the following slideshow, Dan Caplinger, the Motley Fool's director of investment planning, reveals 10 essential but little-known facts about the Social Security program and how it affects millions of Americans. Although most see Social Security as being important only for retirees, people of all ages are counting on the program to provide much-needed benefits both now and in the future. Yet even though the program has grown in size, financial challenges loom for Social Security. How those challenges will get resolved isn't clear, but regardless, you need to be smart about making the decisions that are within your control to make the most of your benefits.