Receiving Social Security Payments
Social Security benefits are only paid out electronically you will not receive a Social Security check in the mail. You can either receive a direct deposit into your bank account or opt for a prepaid debit card. When you apply to receive your Social Security benefits, you will have the chance to provide your account number and the routing number of your bank or credit union.
How To Estimate Your Social Security Income
Two facts are knownSocial Security benefits are not guaranteed, and some changes will be necessary to keep the system solvent in the future as millions of baby boomers retire and begin to receive their Social Security benefits. Though these facts create uncertainty, its also true that the quality of your retirement depends on your planningand you must start planning somewhere.
A good starting point is to figure out the dollar amount of the retirement benefits to which all of your years of Social Security contributions entitle you under current law. There are four ways to do this:
Benefit Reduction If Taken Before Full Retirement Age
When calculating benefits for early retirement, there are one or two calculations, depending on how early benefits are taken. Assuming a normal retirement age of 67, the age of 62 is the earliest year a person can receive benefits or 60 months early.
The benefit is reduced by 5/9 of 1% for each month before the normal retirement age , up to 36 months. If the number of months exceeds 36, then the benefit is further reduced 5/12 of 1% per month.
For example, let’s say that a person wants to retire at 62, leading to a 60-month reduction from the normal retirement age of 67. The first 36 months would be calculated as 36 months times 5/9 of 1% plus 24 months times 5/12 of 1%.
- First 36 months: 5/9 = .5555 * 1% = .005555 * 36 months = .19999 or 20%*
- Remaining 24 months: 5/12 = .416666 * 1% = .00416666 * 24 months = .0999 or 10%
- In other words, benefits would be reduced by 30% if taken at age 62.
*The results were rounded and multiplied by 100 to create a percentage.
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Factors That Affect How Much Youll Get In Retirement
Most retirees rely on Social Security. One in four gets 90% of their retirement income from the program. About half rely on it for 50% of their income.
Although Social Security is only one part of a secure retirement plan, its helpful to get a rough idea of how much you can expect. If youre eligible for Social Security, your monthly benefit is based on two factors:
- How much money you earned during your working career
- The age you choose to start getting payments
Lets look at how each of these affects your future Social Security income.
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How To Calculate Your Social Security Benefit
Calculating your estimated Social Security benefit is no easy task. Your best bet may be to request a Social Security benefits estimate from the SSA. This will contain an estimate of your benefit at age 62, at your FRA, and at age 70, based on your current work history.
In addition to these estimates, the SSA also has a series of Social Security benefits calculators that can help you plan for retirement. You can also use this calculator from AARP to estimate the best age to start claiming your benefits.
Primary Insurance Amount Calculation
For 2022, the SSA established the first bend point as $1,024 and the second bend point as $6,172. Using the AIME from the earlier example of $10,141 and the bend points, we can calculate the primary insurance amount .
Below are the steps to calculating the PIA:
- Multiply the first $1,024 of the person’s AIME by 90% = $921.60
- Subtract the 1st and 2nd bend point and multiply that difference by 32% = $5,148*.32 = $1,647.35*
- Subtract the 2nd bend point amount from the total AIME amount and multiply the difference by 15%. = $3,969*.15 = $595.35
*Please note that the calculation results are required to be rounded down to the next lower multiple of 10 cents.
- The PIA is the sum of the three calculation results: = $3,164.30
*The multipliers90%, 32%, and 15%are set by law and do not change annually. The bend points are inflation-indexed but only through age 62. PIA is effectively locked in at age 62.
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How Do I Increase My Social Security Benefits After Retirement
To increase your monthly benefit, don’t start taking Social Security payments right when you reach full retirement age. The longer you wait, the more you’ll get each month. If you want to get the highest possible amount of Social Security benefits each month, you need to wait until age 70 to retire.
Are Social Security Benefits Taxable
If you have a lot of income from other sources, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable income. If the combination of your Social Security benefits and other income is below $25,000, your benefits wonât be taxed at all. The amount of your benefits that is subject to taxes is calculated on a sliding scale based on your income. Money that Social Security recipients pay in income taxes on their benefits goes back into funding Social Security and Medicare.
If your retirement income is high enough that your benefits are taxable, how do you pay those benefits? You can ask Social Security for an IRS Voluntary Withholding Request Form if youâd like the government to withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits. Otherwise, youâre expected to file quarterly tax returns to pay these taxes over the course of the year.
That covers federal income taxes. What about state income taxes? That depends. In 13 states, your Social Security benefits will be taxed as income, either in whole or in part the remaining states do not tax Social Security income.
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Theres An Annual Social Security Cost
One of the best features of Social Security benefits is that the government adjusts the benefits each year based on inflation. This is called a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and helps your payments keep up with increasing living expenses. The Social Security COLA is quite valuable its the equivalent of buying inflation protection on a private annuity, which can get expensive.
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 saw a 1.3% COLA in their monthly Social Security benefits.
The Kiplinger Letter predicted in September that the COLA for 2022 could be 6%, which would be the largest adjustment since 1982. The final COLA for 2022 will be announced on Oct. 13.
Heres what COLAs have been in other recent years:
- 2009: 5.8%
- 2021: 1.3%
No : Delay Starting To Collect Your Benefits
Another way to increase your Social Security benefits is to delay starting to collect them. You can start as early as age 62 and delay up to age 70. Each of us has a “full” retirement age , and for every year beyond that that you delay, your benefits will grow by about 8%. Delay from age 67 to 70 and you’ll get benefits 24% bigger. The table below shows the effect of starting to collect early or late. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start collecting benefits at 64, your checks will be 80% of what they would have been had you started collecting at 67.
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Eliminated The Stretch Provision
The SECURE Act removed the stretch provision, which previously allowed non-spousal beneficiaries to withdraw the required minimum distributions from an inherited IRA until the account was depleted. Non-spousal beneficiaries must withdraw all of the funds in 10 years following the death of the original account holder, a requirement put in place on Jan. 1, 2020.
Applying To Delay Your First Payment
If you received a letter from us and want to delay your first payment:
Examples of delaying Old Age Security
Delaying 1 year
Michael turned 65 in July 2019. If he decides to delay receiving the Old Age Security pension for 1 year, his monthly amount will increase by 7.2% to account for the 12-month deferral period from August 2019 to July 2020.
If Michaels payment amount is $549.89 per month, his increased monthly payment would be $589.48.
Delaying 5 years
Rita will be turning 65 in December 2019. If she decides to delay receiving the Old Age Security pension for the maximum deferral period of 60 months, her monthly amount will increase by 36% at age 70 .
If Ritas payment amount is $549.89 per month, her increased monthly payment would be $747.85.
Delaying with an earlier start date than the date of application
John could receive his Old Age Security pension in August 2018 and he decided to delay receiving it. In December 2019, John applied for Old Age Security. He writes on his application that he would like his benefit to be effective as of October 2019, 3 months earlier than his application date. His monthly benefit amount will then increase by 8.4% to account for the 14-month period from August 2018 to September 2019. The monthly increase does not apply to the period from October 2019 to December 2019.
If Johns payment amount is $549.89 per month, his increased monthly payment would be $596.08.
You Can Claim Social Security Benefits Earned By Your Ex
Just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean you’ve lost the ability to get a Social Security benefit based on your former spouse’s earnings. You can receive a benefit based on his or her record instead of a benefit based on your own work record if you were married at least 10 years, you are 62 or older, and you are single.
Like a regular spousal benefit, you can get up to 50% of an ex-spouse’s benefit — less if you claim before full retirement age. And the beauty of it is that your ex never needs to know because you apply for the benefit directly through the Social Security Administration. Taking a benefit on your ex-spouse’s record has no effect on his or her benefit or the benefit of your ex’s new spouse. And unlike a regular spousal benefit, if your ex qualifies for benefits but has yet to apply, you can still start collecting Social Security based on the ex’s record, though you must have been divorced for at least two years.
Note: Ex-spouses can also take a survivor benefit if their ex died after the divorce, and, like any survivor benefit, it will be worth up to 100% of what the ex-spouse received. If you remarry after age 60, you are still eligible for the survivor benefit.
A claiming strategy if youre divorced: Exes at full retirement age who were born on January 1, 1954, or earlier can apply to restrict their application to a spousal benefit while letting their own benefit grow.
Max Out Earnings Through Full Retirement Age
The SSA calculates your benefit amount based on your earnings, so the more you earn, the higher your benefit amount will be. Some pre-retirees look for ways to increase their income, such as taking on part-time work or generating business income. Others, however, unaware of the impact on benefits, may scale back on their work or semi-retire, which can lower their Social Security income.
“Money earned after age 60 isn’t indexed, which means that income-earning in your 60s can replace a year in which there was a zero or a year in which you had lower earnings,” says Marguerita Cheng, CFP®, CRPC®, RICP, CDFA, CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, Gaithersburg, MD.
Earnings above the annual cap$142,800 in 2021 and indexed to inflation each yearare left out of the calculation. Your goal should be to maximize your peak earning years, striving to earn at or above the cap.
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Social Security And Medicare Benefit Changes For 2022 And Beyond
Impactful changes Social Security filers face in 2022 and beyond.
As we kickoff 2022, there are some changes related to Social Security and Medicare that you need to know along with some insight into the future.
Here are some highlights of the most impactful changes Social Security filers face in 2022 and beyond:
- If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will receive a 5.9% COLA increase to your monthly Social Security benefit. This nice increase will be somewhat offset by the increase in Part B premiums
- To earn the maximum of four credits in 2022, you need to earn $6,040 or $1,510 per quarter
- Maximum taxable wage base is $147,000
- If you turn 62 in 2022, your full retirement age changes to 67
- If you turn 62 in 2022 and claim benefits, your monthly benefit will be reduced by 30% of your full retirement age benefit
- If you choose to work before you reach full retirement age, and you are collecting benefits, the annual earnings limitation is $19,560. In the year you reach full retirement age, that threshold is $51,960 in 2022. At full retirement age, this limitation goes away!
- The maximum Windfall Elimination Provision deduction for 2022 is $512
- If you are signing up for Social Security in 2022, be mindful that additional planning may be needed if you have an HSA
Here are some highlights of the most impactful changes to Medicare in 2022:
You Can Undo A Social Security Benefits Claiming Decision
There aren’t many times in life you can take a mulligan. But Social Security offers you the chance for a do-over. Let’s say you claimed your benefit, but regretted the decision and wished you had waited. Within the first 12 months of claiming Social Security benefits, you can withdraw the application. You will need to pay back all the benefits you received, including any spousal benefits based on your record. But you can later restart your Social Security benefits at the higher amount youll earn by waiting.
Early claimers have another opportunity for a do-over: They can choose to suspend their Social Security benefit at full retirement age. Say you took your benefit at age 62. Once you turn full retirement age, you can suspend your benefit. You don’t have to pay back what you have received, and your benefit will earn delayed retirement credits of 8% a year. Wait to restart your benefit at age 70, and your monthly payment will get up to a 32% boost — which could erase much of the reduction from claiming early.
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How To Calculate Social Security Benefits
If youd just like a ballpark estimate of your benefit, the Social Security Administration offers a quick calculator to give you a sense of your potential benefit. This calculator simply asks for your current annual salary, your birth date and your projected retirement date, although it does allow you to fill in your actual income by year to get a more accurate estimate.
This estimate does not take early or late application for benefits, taxes and Medicare, or COLA increases into account. Youll likely need to download the Social Security Administrations full calculator software or work with a financial advisor to determine your full benefits considering those factors.
Knowing how much you can expect to receive in Social Security gives you an important piece of your retirement income puzzle. With that in hand, you can make the financial plans you need for a secure and fulfilling retirement.