How To Decide When To Claim Social Security
Think less about when you should claim Social Security and more about what you can do. Once understand what can do, in a position to decide what you should do, said Czarnowski.
One thing thats critical to learn is your full retirement age or FRA. Thats the age at which you’re entitled to your full retirement benefit amount. And your year of birth determines your FRA.
You can find your FRA by birth year on the Social Security website. But you dont have to claim at FRA. In fact, you can start collecting benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. If, however, you start receiving benefits early, your benefits are reduced permanently a small percent for each month before your FRA. And if you delay your benefits until after FRA, you will be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit.
But no matter when you claim, make it an informed decision, Czarnowski said.
You Have To Wait Longer To Qualify For Your Full Benefit
The Social Security Administration assigns everyone a full retirement age based on their birth year. This is when you become eligible for your full Social Security benefit based on your work history.
For adults turning 62 in 2022, their FRA is 67. This is two months higher than the FRA for adults who turned 62 in 2021.
That doesn’t mean you have to wait until 67 to sign up, but if you apply sooner, you’ll get smaller checks. Signing up right away at 62 means you’ll only get 70% of your full benefit per check.
On the other hand, you can delay benefits past your FRA, which will increase your checks. You can get up to 124% of your full benefit per check if you wait until 70 to apply. Delaying past this point won’t boost your checks, so make sure you sign up by your 70th birthday at the latest.
Can I Do Anything About Social Security Not Paying Me Any Benefits This Year
Dear Larry\=. I turned 60 this year ans applied for my husband’s benefits at an early age reduced portion. SSA began paying me in sept to dec. I received a letter 1-6-22 stating no further payments due to my work. I called, they said they over paid me. Now I will get nothing all year. This doesn’t seem fair. Can I do anything? Thank You in advance.
Hi. I don’t know if it helps, but I can try to explain. Social Security has an earnings test that applies to anyone collecting benefits prior to their full retirement age . If you earned more than $18,960 last year, then Social Security would need to have withheld $1 of your benefits for every $2 that your earned in excess of $18,960. They could, however, pay you for any month that you earned less than $1580 no matter how much you earned for the year of 2021.
If you earned more than $18,960 and if not enough of your 2021 benefits were withheld, you would then be overpaid and you’d be expected to refund the overpaid amount to Social Security. If you don’t refund the overpayment amount, then Social Security withholds future benefits to recover the overpayment.
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What If I Change My Mind
If you receive Social Security benefits at a reduced rate, but then change your mind, you have the option of withdrawing your application and paying back to the government what you’ve already received . Then, you could restart benefits at a later date to take advantage of a higher payout. But you are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.
For example, let’s say you elected to receive early benefits at age 62, but then decided to go back to work at age 63. You could withdraw your Social Security application within the first 12 months of receiving benefits, pay back the years’ worth of benefits you received, go back to work, and then wait until a later age to restart your benefit checks at a higher level.
For important details about repaying benefits please read the SSA publication If You Change Your Mind.
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An Example Of Taxed Benefits
Lets say you receive the maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at FRA in 2021: $3,148 per month. Your spouse receives half as much, or $1,574 a month. Together, you receive $4,722 a month, or $56,664 per year. Half of that, or $28,332, counts toward your combined income for determining whether you have to pay tax on part of your Social Security benefits. Lets further assume that you dont have any nontaxable interest, wages, or other income except for your traditional individual retirement accounts required minimum distribution of $10,000 for the year.
Your combined income would be $38,332half of your Social Security income, plus your IRA distributionwhich would make up to 50% of your Social Security benefits taxable because youve exceeded the $32,000 threshold. Now, you may be thinking, 50% of $56,664 is $28,332, and Im in the 12% tax bracket, so the tax on my Social Security benefits will be $3,399.84.
Fortunately, the calculation takes other factors into account, and your tax would be a mere $225. You can read all about the taxation of Social Security benefits in the Internal Revenue Service Publication 915.
What If I Delay Taking My Benefits
If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit . For example, say you were born in 1955 and your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months. If you started your benefits at age 68, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by approximately two . This makes your benefit ~15% higher than the amount you would have received at age 66.
That higher baseline lasts for the rest of your retirement and serves as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While it’s important to consider your personal circumstancesit’s not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or can’t afford to delaythe benefits of waiting can be significant.
If you decide to wait past age 65, you may still need to sign up for Medicare. In some circumstancesyour Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more if you do not sign up at age 65.
Effect of late retirement on benefits
1.Represents Full Retirement Age based on DOB Jan. 2, 1955
2.PIA = The primary insurance amount is the basis for benefits that are paid to an individual
To review your situation, your annual Social Security statement will list your projected benefits at age 62, full retirement age, and age 70, assuming you continue to work and earn about the same amount until age 62, full retirement age, or age 70 before retiring. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one from the Social Security Administration .
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Taking Social Security: How To Benefit By Waiting
For those who are able to do so, it may make sense to wait even longer, because youll receive a larger monthly benefit even more than your full benefit. Every month past your full retirement that you delay, Social Security will increase your check by about 0.7 percent per month.
If your full retirement age is 66, then heres how much your check would increase:
|Retirement age||New benefit||A $1,000 check becomes|
So if your full retirement age is 66, then if you can wait two more years and claim benefits at age 68, youll increase your monthly check by 16 percent. In this case, if your full benefit were $1,000 a month, your new benefit would become $1,160 per month. And youll still receive cost of living adjustments on top of this amount, typically raising your payout a little each year.
Workers have other ways to grow their Social Security benefits, too, but its important to start early.
How Is Your Benefit Calculated
Social Security actually calculates your benefit based on the monthly average of your 35 highest earning years, not your last five years nor your highest three years, said Czarnowski. And if you dont have 35 earning years, zeros get plugged into the calculation, and that lowers your monthly average and, in effect, lowers your benefit.
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Social Security Entitlement Requirements
Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income may also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI benefits is also an application for Social Security benefits. We often need to obtain additional information from the person before we can award Social Security benefits.
The following sections provide information on who may be entitled to Social Security benefits.
TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AS A WORKER YOU MUST BE:
Age 62 or older, or disabled or blind and
“Insured” by having enough work credits.
For applications filed December 1, 1996, or later, you must either be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present alien in order to receive monthly Social Security benefits.
HOW MUCH WORK DO YOU NEED TO BE”INSURED”?
We measure work in “work credits”. You can earn up to four work credits per year based on your annual earnings. The amount of earnings required for a work credit increases each year as general wage levels rise.
To be eligible for most types of benefits , you must have earned an average of one work credit for each calendar year between age 21 and the year in which you reach age 62 or become disabled or blind, up to a maximum of 40 credits. A minimum of six work credits is required, regardless of age.
The rules are as follows:
|Born After 1929|
WHO CAN RECEIVE BENEFITS ON YOUR EARNINGS RECORD?
If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may qualify if he or she is:
Get Ssa Benefits While Living Overseas
U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.
Timing And Your Health Coverage
Your health insurance coverage can also play a role in deciding when to claim Social Security benefits. Do you have a health savings account to which you would like to keep contributing? If so, note that if youre age 65 or older, then receiving Social Security benefits requires you to sign up for Medicare Part A, and once you sign up for Medicare Part A, youll no longer be allowed to add funds to your HSA.
The SSA also cautions that even if you delay receiving Social Security benefits until after age 65, you might still need to apply for Medicare benefits within three months of turning 65 to avoid paying higher premiums for life for Medicare Part B and Part D.
In 2022, the average monthly premium for Part D will be $33 per month versus $31.47 in 2021. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, the average monthly premium will be $19 per month in 2022 versus $21.22 in 2021. However, if you are still receiving health insurance from your or your spouses employer, you might not yet have to enroll in Medicare.
As of Oct. 16, 2021, Social Security offices are only open by appointment, and to get an appointment you need to be in a limited, critical situation. Most people will have to transact their business online, by phone, or through the mail.
How Spousal And Survivor Benefits Work
If the higher earner waits to collect until age 70, his or her spouse, the lower wage earner, will receive 50% of the higher earners FRA benefit not 50% of the age 70 benefit. But should the higher earner die after collecting at age 70, the surviving spouse will receive the deceased’s age 70 benefit.
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Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts About Social Security
Social Security provides a foundation of income on which workers can build to plan for their retirement. It also provides valuable social insurance protection to workers who become disabled and to families whose breadwinner dies.
Eighty-five years after President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, Social Security remains one of the nations most successful, effective, and popular programs.
Early Benefits Can Still Pay Off
However, taking early benefits can still pay off despite the reduced monthly check. But youll want to be sure you budget for a reduced benefit.
No one can predict how long youll live, but if youre facing a potentially significant reduction in life expectancy and are short of income, taking Social Security early may be appropriate, Neiser says.
Married women are also good candidates for claiming early benefits because they are likely to outlive their husbands. Those widows then become eligible to receive the greater of either their benefit or their late husbands benefit.
However, this scenario works only if the husband does not claim his benefits early. By not claiming early benefits, the husband effectively increases the monthly benefit his wife eventually receives. So youll want to calculate how filing early will affect your spousal benefit here.
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Your May Have To Pay Taxes On Social Security Benefits
Most people know that you pay tax into the Social Security Trust Fund throughout your career, but some retirees don’t realize that you also have to pay tax on your Social Security benefits once you start taking them. Benefits lost their tax-free status in 1984, and the income thresholds for triggering tax on benefits haven’t been increased since then.
It doesn’t take a lot of income for your Social Security benefits to be taxed. For example, a married couple with a combined income of more than $32,000 may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits. Higher earners may have to pay income tax on up to 85% of their benefits.
You may also have to pay state income taxes on your Social Security benefits. See our list of the 12 States That Tax Social Security Benefits.
How To Check Your Earnings Record
How might check your earnings record? In the past, Social Security mailed you a statement that contained your earnings record and benefit estimate. Today, however, you need to create a my Social Security account to review your earnings record. You can do that at .
When checking whether your earnings record is correct or not, keep the following in mind. One, theres no statute of limitations on correcting errors related to wages, according to Kurt Czarnowski, a principal at Czarnowski Consulting.
A person needs to provide proof of what the correct amount of earnings was, Czarnowski said at a recent National Association of Personal Financial Advisors conference. But even if it’s something back in 1976, if happen to have W-2, can make that correction.
Thats not true, however, when it comes to correcting self-employment income errors on your Social Security statement. You have only three years, three months and 15 days to correct those errors, Czarnowski explained.
Know Your Social Security Full Retirement Age
First things first:Determine your Social Security full retirement age. For people born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. If your birthday falls between 1955 and 1959, it gradually climbs to 67. If you are born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67.
You can claim your Social Security benefits a few years before or after your full retirement age, and your monthly benefit amount will vary as a result. More on that in a moment.
How Should I Decide When To Take Benefits
Consider the following factors as you decide when to take Social Security.
Your cash needs: If you’re contemplating early retirement and you have sufficient resources , you can be flexible about when to take Social Security benefits.
If you’ll need your Social Security benefits to make ends meet, you may have fewer options. If possible, you may want to consider postponing retirement or work part-time until you reach your full retirement ageor even longer so that you can maximize your benefits.
Your life expectancy and break-even age: Taking Social Security early reduces your benefits, but you’ll also receive monthly checks for a longer period of time. On the other hand, taking Social Security later results in fewer checks during your lifetime, but the credit for waiting means each check will be larger.
At what age will you break even and begin to come out ahead if you delay Social Security? The break-even age depends on the amount of your benefits and the assumptions you use to account for taxes and the opportunity cost of waiting . The SSA has several handy calculators you can use to estimate your own benefits.
If you think you’ll beat the average life expectancy, then waiting for a larger monthly check might be a good deal. On the other hand, if you’re in poor health or have reason to believe you won’t beat the average life expectancy, you might decide to take what you can while you can.
A quick note about life expectancy
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