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How Can I Claim My Social Security Benefits

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When Can I Start Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits

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The Social Security Administration used to consider 65 to be full retirement age for the retirement benefit. Benefits amounts were calculated on the assumption that most workers will stop working full time and will claim retirement benefits when they reach age 65.

Now that people are generally living longer, Social Securitys rules about what is considered full retirement age have changed. Age 65 is still considered full retirement age for anyone born before 1938. But full retirement age gradually increases from age 65 to 67 for people born in 1938 or later. For anyone born after 1960, the full retirement age is 67.

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What Are Social Security Spousal Benefits

Social Security spousal benefits are a part of a workers retirement or disability benefit given to their spouse. Spousal benefits are based on the income earned during a qualifying workers life, as well as the retirement age of both the worker and their spouse.

If you qualify for Social Security spousal benefits, the size of your benefit can be up to 50% of your spouse or ex-spouses primary insurance amount . PIA is the amount of Social Security benefits that your spouse is entitled to at his or her full retirement age . So if your spouses PIA is $1,000, you could receive a maximum of $500 in spousal benefits.

If youve worked enough to qualify for your own Social Security retirement benefits, you will not get both benefits added together. Instead, you will receive whichever benefit is higher. If the spousal benefit is more than your own, youll get your own earned benefit plus an additional amount to bring you up to that higher spousal benefit amount.

Waiting Just Might Be Worth It

Social Security is designed to play a part in — but not be the only source of funding for — your retirement. When considering whether 62 is the right age for you to claim benefits, be sure to look at your total financial picture before committing. You just might find that waiting a bit could end up being a better overall choice.

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Children Can Collect Social Security Benefits Too

Minor children of Social Security beneficiaries can be eligible for benefits. Children up to age 18 and disabled children older than 18 may be able to receive up to half of a parent’s Social Security benefit. The disability must have occurred before the age of 22. As long as the disability prevents the person from working, the adult child can continue collecting the benefit even after the parent has died.

Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby

Social Security vs. SSI

The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.

Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:

  • Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
  • Open a bank account in their name
  • Get medical coverage for them
  • Apply for government services for them

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft.

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What To Consider Before Filing For Social Security

A larger benefit check sounds great, but there are tradeoffs, and soon-to-retire folks should consider multiple issues before they decide one way or the other on when to file. If you really want to consider all the avenues, then youll have to think about your finances and longevity two issues that people have a hard time grappling with.

But heres the key tradeoff: you can file early and take a reduced benefit, expecting that a shorter lifespan will mean you receive more now, or you could file at full retirement age or later and claim a bigger check, and eventually live long enough to claim more than the first approach.

Social Security is like longevity insurance, says Brent Neiser, a certified financial planner and former chair of the Consumer Advisory Board at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Its a stream of payments that will not stop throughout your life, so delaying your benefits to keep those payments as large as possible forms a helpful base to your retirement plan.

Neiser urges those who have not saved enough for retirement to use whatever means possible to postpone their Social Security benefits until after their full retirement age to help boost their future income.

You can use personal savings to help bridge the gap, but ideally you should plan to work a little longer , Neiser says.

How To Stop Social Security Check Payments

The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.

If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.

Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.

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Full Retirement Age: Age 6567 Depending On Date Of Birth

Your full retirement age is determined by your day and year of birth, and it is the age in which you get your full amount of Social Security benefits. For every year you delay taking your benefits from full retirement age up until you turn 70, your benefit amount will increase by almost 8% a year. It is referred to as a delayed retirement credit. This increase can result in more lifetime income for you and your spouse. Even after factoring in a potential return on investment and the monthly benefits you could have received if you claimed early, there can still be a $50,000$100,000 increase in lifetime benefits by waiting until you are older.

Simplifying Your Social Security Taxes

ð´Can I Claim Ex-Spousal Social Security at 62 & Later Get My Full Retirement

During your working years, your employer probably withheld payroll taxes from your paycheck. If you make enough in retirement that you need to pay federal income tax, then you will also need to withhold taxes from your monthly income.

To withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits, you will need to fill out Form W-4V . The form only has only seven lines. You will need to enter your personal information and then choose how much to withhold from your benefits. The only withholding options are 7%, 10%, 12% or 22% of your monthly benefit. After you fill out the form, mail it to your closest Social Security Administration office or drop it off in person.

If you prefer to pay more exact withholding payments, you can choose to file estimated tax payments instead of having the SSA withhold taxes. Estimated payments are tax payments that you make each quarter on income that an employer is not required to withhold tax from. So if you ever earned income from self-employment, you may already be familiar with estimated payments.

In general, its easier for retirees to have the SSA withhold taxes. Estimated taxes are a bit more complicated and will simply require you to do more work throughout the year. However, you should make the decision based on your personal situation. At any time you can also switch strategies by asking the the SSA to stop withholding taxes.

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Theres An Annual Social Security Cost

One of the most attractive features of Social Security benefits is that every year the government adjusts the benefit for inflation. Known as a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, this inflation protection can help you keep up with rising living expenses during retirement. The Social Security COLA is quite valuable its the equivalent of buying inflation protection on a private annuity, which can cost a pretty penny.

Because the COLA is calculated based on changes in a federal consumer price index, the size of the COLA depends largely on broad inflation levels determined by the government. In 2021, Social Security beneficiaries will see a 1.3% COLA in their monthly Social Security benefits.

The Kiplinger Letter forecast in March that the 2022 COLA would be 3%, which would be the largest increase since 2012 when Social Security benefits ticked up 3.6%.

Heres what COLAs have been in other recent years:

  • 2009: 5.8%
  • 2021: 1.3%

Will A Government Pension Impact My Retirement Benefits

If you worked for an employer that didnt withhold FICA taxes from your salary, such as a government agency, the pension you receive based on that work may reduce your Social Security retirement benefits. This reduction, as part of the windfall elimination provision , affects individuals who earned a pension in any job where FICA taxes werent paid and who worked in other jobs long enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.

In addition to a reduction in individual benefits, spousal and/or survivor benefits may also be reduced accordingly. In this case, Social Security benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of the government pension.

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Do You Expect To Have Additional Sources Of Retirement Income Beyond Social Security

Continue saving in the coming years.

Social Security won’t replace all of your pre-retirement income. On average, Social Security replaces 40 percent of a worker’s income. That means your retirement savings, pension, 401, or Individual Retirement Account will need to fill the gap. Claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later can minimize this gap and maximize your monthly benefit. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be reduced by as much as 30 percent.Learn more about saving for retirement.

You have an opportunity to continue growing your money.

If you can, get the highest monthly Social Security benefit possible by claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be permanently reduced by as much as 30 percent. Also, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401 or Individual Retirement Account . Lastly, avoid losing your retirement savings to unnecessary tax penalties. If you withdraw your 401 or IRA savings before age 59½, you will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.Learn more about how retirement savings grow.

It’s a perfect time to start saving.

It’s never too late to start saving!

There are many ways to plan for a secure retirement outside of Social Security.

It’s never too late to start saving!

A type of retirement savings account offered by employers to help their employees save for retirement.

Whats Full Retirement Age

17 Best images about Social Security Disability on ...

Full retirement age is when youre eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. Your full retirement age depends on your birth year: Under current law, if you were born in 1951 or later, your full retirement age is now some point after age 65all the way up to age 67 for those born after 1959. If you were born before 1951, youve already reached age 66 and full retirement age.

Retirement ages for full Social Security benefits

If you were born in

Your full retirement age is

1950 or earlier

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No : Your Surviving Spouse Might Thank You

When one member of a married couple passes away, the surviving spouse can often get the higher of the couple’s two Social Security benefits. While the surviving spouse might be able to live on less than the two could live on as a married couple, the loss of income from going down a benefit could still be financially painful.

In addition to the direct loss of money, a widow or widower soon loses the ability to file taxes jointly. That means that any remaining income might be exposed to higher taxes, which could make a tough situation even tougher.

As a result, consider who you may leave behind once you pass and what your passing will mean for their financial well-being before deciding when to collect your Social Security benefit. Waiting a bit could make an incredible difference to someone you love.

How To Value Your Benefits

Suppose youll receive $1,500 a month from Social Security beginning at age 66. Each year, that $1,500 a month can be expected to go up a little if the cost of living measured by the consumer price index increases.

Now, suppose youll live another 20 years. How much is that income stream worth?

You can answer that question by taking the present value of that stream of cash flow. To pay yourself $1,500 a month increasing at 2% a year for 20 years, youd need $263,977 in the bank earning a 5% annual rate of return. Youd need $348,535 if you live for 30 years.

And if you assume that youre using safe investments, earning 2% instead of a portfolio earning 5%the same rate of assumed inflation at which your income increases each yearyou would then need $352,941 in the bank for the income to last 20 years. Youd need $529,411 for it to last 30 years.

A $1,500 per month, your Social Security benefit is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum, and that doesnt factor in ancillary benefits like spousal benefits or survivor benefits.

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If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

Contact the authorizing agency directly to find out why they sent the payment. You may be able to find the authorizing agency in the memo line of the check. View this diagram of a sample Treasury check to help you locate the authorizing agency contact information on your own check. Scroll about half way down the page to see the diagram.

If you’re unable to find which agency authorized the payment, . They can help you determine which government agency you need to contact. To find which RFC you need to call, look for its city and state at the top center of the check.

Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitmate and issued by the government.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

When to claim your Social Security benefits

Even after you die, Social Security can continue to pay benefits to your spouse and childrenand even to your parents, if you were supporting them. For your family to receive survivor benefits, youll need to have earned at least six Social Security credits in the three years before your death.

Along with a one-time lump-sum payment of $255, your surviving spouse and children may each qualify for 71.5% to 100% of your Social Security payments, up to a maximum of 150% to 180% of your benefit rate. Eligibility for survivor benefits requires that:

  • Surviving spouse is at least 60 or older
  • Surviving spouse is 50 or older and disabled
  • Surviving spouse is caring for your child who is younger than 16 or disabled
  • Children who are younger than 18
  • Children younger than 19 and enrolled in elementary or secondary school
  • Children older than 18 who are severely disabled
  • Your surviving parents if they were dependent on you for at least half of their support

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If You’re Worried About The Solvency Of Social Security

The benefits provided by Social Security are typically viewed as guaranteed income for retirees. But the government has made changes in the past to avoid a shortfall in funds thats why a portion of your benefits can now be taxed. And more changes may be on the horizon. The Social Security Board of Trustees 2019 report on the long-term financial status of the program projects the combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds will become depleted in 2035, with 80% of benefits payable at that time.

That means the amount you actually receive could be smaller than what youre expecting based on the estimated benefits on your current Social Security statements. If, in a few years, lawmakers push for an overall benefits reduction to deal with the shortfall, the amount you receive if you claim at 62 may not be that much less than what you would get if you wait until your full retirement age because youd already locked your benefit in before it could be cut.

What Happens If My Childs Father Died

If the custodial parent dies, the main focus will be who will care for the children. This could result in guardianship from the grandparents, the non-custodial parent, friends of the family, or other relatives. If the non-custodial parent takes on custody, they could try to modify their child support.

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Can A Divorced Woman Who Was Married For More Than 10 Years Claim A Spousal Benefit On Her Ex

Not any longer. The government eliminated a strategy that allowed a spouse or a divorced spouse to use a restricted application to file for a spousal benefit while letting her own retirement benefit grow. Now only people born before 1954 can do this.

Instead, when a spouse or divorced spouse files for benefits, the government will give her all the benefits she is eligible for whether it is her retirement benefit or a spousal benefit, said William Reichenstein, a principal of Social Security Solutions, a company that helps individuals maximize their lifetime income.

A divorced spouse can file for a spousal benefit even if the ex-spouse has not yet claimed a benefit as long as both are at least 62 and are divorced for more than two years. A married spouse must wait until her spouse has filed.

But if the ex-spouse dies, the picture changes. The surviving ex-spouse can claim a survivor benefit as early as 60 and allow her retirement benefit to grow until as late as 70. Or she can claim her reduced retirement benefit early and then switch to a higher survivor benefit at full retirement age.

If you were married for 10 years, keep tabs on the ex, Ms. Floyd said. Once he dies, that survivor benefit could be higher than your own.

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