Apply For Retirement Benefits
Starting your Social Security retirement benefits is a major step on your retirement journey. This page will guide you through the process of applying for retirement benefits when youre ready to take that step. Our online application is a convenient way to apply on your own schedule, without an appointment. You can also apply by phone or by appointment at a Social Security office.
How We Make Money
The offers that appear on this site are from companies that compensate us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories. But this compensation does not influence the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you.
How Your Social Security Benefits Are Calculated
Your Social Security benefits are based on the 35 calendar years in which your income was the highest. If you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, each year with no earnings will be entered as zero. You can increase your Social Security benefit at any time by replacing a zero or low-income year with a higher-income year.
There is a maximum Social Security benefit amount you can receive, though it depends on the age you retire. For someone at full retirement age in 2021, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,113. For someone filing at age 70, the maximum monthly amount is $3,895.
Read Also: How Does Social Security Figure Out Benefits
At What Age Can You Earn Unlimited Income On Social Security
Upon reaching full retirement age, you can earn an unlimited income while still receiving Social Security. Full retirement age varies based on the year in which you were born. That age can range anywhere from 65 to 67 based on your birth year. For those born after 1960, you will have to wait until you are 67 to be considered full retirement age. However, for those born before that, you might be able to retire as early as 65.
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.
You May Like: Social Secuurity
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.
Whats Your Social Security Break
If youre looking to maximize your total lifetime Social Security payout, youll want to conduct a break-even analysis to determine when you should start drawing your benefits.
Your break-even age occurs when the total value of higher benefits starts to exceed the total value of lower benefits .
For example, if you are eligible to collect a reduced $900 benefit at age 62 plus 1 month, and your benefit would increase to $1,251 at age 65 and 10 months, your estimated break-even age is 75 years and 5 months.
If you expect to live beyond that age, it could make financial sense to delay drawing benefits. The Social Security Administrations life expectancy calculator can help you decide.
When it comes to calculating a start date for Social Security benefits, however, theres not an age thats appropriate for everyone. Consider your own financial needs, health and other retirement plans before making the call. If you cant reasonably afford to live without taking benefits, it may make little sense to delay taking your benefit.
Also Check: Is Social Security Based On Last 5 Years
How Do Medicare And Social Security Work Together
Youll get Medicare automatically if youre already receiving Social Security retirement or SSDI benefits. For example, if you took retirement benefits starting at age 62, youll be enrolled in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. Youll also be automatically enrolled once youve been receiving SSDI for 24 months.
Youll need to enroll in Medicare if you turn 65 but havent taken your Social Security benefits yet. The Social Security Administration and Medicare will send you a Welcome to Medicare packet when youre eligible to enroll. The packet will walk you through your Medicare choices and help you enroll.
SSA will also determine the amount you need to pay for Medicare coverage. You wont pay premiums for Part A unless you dont meet the coverage rules discussed above, but most people will pay a premium for Part B.
In 2020, the standard premium amount is $144.60. This amount will be higher if you have a large income. Social Security uses your tax records to determine the rates you need to pay.
If you make more than $87,000 a year, SSA will send you an Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount . Your IRMAA notification will tell you the amount above the standard premium you need to pay. Youll also be responsible for an IRMAA if you choose to buy a separate Part D plan and you make over $87,000.
How Should People Avoid Making This Mistake
Shu doesn’t offer a blanket directive to delay collecting benefits because everyone’s circumstances are different. However, she does recommend that people make a list of reasons why postponing benefits would be better than collecting early.
And this idea is backed by research. In a 2015 study, participants were split into two groups. The first group was asked to think about reasons for favoring early claiming, then reasons for favoring delaying claiming, while the second group was asked to consider the same points in the reverse order.
On average, those in the second group chose to postpone their preferred claiming age by 9.4 months, because they were encouraged to think about the future first and had considered the advantages of waiting to collect.
It could also be useful to think about how much more money you earn by postponing benefit collection, especially if you end up living into your 80s or 90s, says Shu. People don’t typically think about the regret they’ll feel if they collect early and lock in a lower monthly payment.
And when prepping for retirement, people should also consider that Social Security benefits don’t typically provide enough money to cover all of retirees’ living expenses.
Also Check: Cial Security
Does Social Security Pay For Medicare
Social Security does not pay for Medicare, but if you receive Social Security payments, your Part B premiums can be deducted from your check. This means that instead of $1,500, for example, youll receive $1,386.40 and your Part B premium will be paid.
Now lets take a look at Medicare and Social Security to understand what these important benefit programs are, how you qualify, and what they mean for you.
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.
Read Also: How Much Have I Put Into Social Security
Social Security Retirement Benefit Basics
Social Security benefits are a major source of retirement income for most people. Your Social Security retirement benefit is based on the number of years youve worked and the amount youve earned. When you begin taking Social Security benefits also greatly affects the size of your benefit.
How Do You Qualify for Retirement Benefits?
When you work and pay Social Security taxes , you earn Social Security credits. You can earn up to four credits each year. If you were born after 1928, you need 40 credits to be eligible for retirement benefits.
How Much Will Your Retirement Benefit Be?
The Social Security Administration calculates your primary insurance amount , upon which your retirement benefit will be based, using a formula that takes into account your 35 highest earnings years. At your full retirement age, youll be entitled to receive that amount. This is known as your full retirement benefit. Because your retirement benefit is based on your average earnings over your working career, if you have some years of no earnings or low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily.
Your age at the time you start receiving benefits also affects your benefit amount. Although you can retire early at age 62, the longer you wait to begin receiving your benefit , the more youll receive each month.
Retiring at Full Retirement Age
If you were born on January 1 of any year, refer to the previous year to determine your full retirement age.
What Else Affects Your Retirement Benefits
Everyones retirement is unique. Beyond deciding when to begin receiving retirement benefits, other factors that can affect your benefits include whether you continue to work, what type of job you had, and if you have a pension from certain jobs.
Continuing To Work
You can choose to keep working beyond your full retirement age. If you do, you can increase your future Social Security benefits. Each extra year you work adds another year of earnings to your Social Security record. Higher lifetime earnings can mean higher benefits when you choose to receive benefits.
Specific Types Of Earnings
While Social Security earnings are calculated the same way for most American workers, there are some types of earnings that have additional rules.
Earning types with special rules include:
Pensions And Other Factors
Pensions and taxes have the potential to impact your retirement benefit. Review the resources below on pensions and other factors you should consider:
- Windfall Elimination Provision : If you have a pension from a job for which you didnt pay Social Security taxes, this policy may lower your retirement benefits.
- Government Pension Offset : This policy affects benefits as a spouse, widow, or widower if you have a pension from a government job for which you didnt pay Social Security taxes.
- Income Taxes And Your Social Security Benefits: You might have to pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits in certain situations.
Don’t Miss: Social Security Benefits Payout
If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it.
If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:
If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.
C You Can Continue Working And Not Receive Your Retirement Benefits
If you decide to continue working and not start your benefits until after full retirement age, your benefits will increase for each month you do not receive them until you reach age 70. There is no incentive to delay filing for your benefits after age 70. Continuing to work may also increase your benefits, because your current earnings could replace an earlier year of lower or no earnings, which can result in a higher benefit amount.
If you are not receiving your Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you will need to apply for Original Medicare three months before you turn 65. If you dont sign up for Medicare Part B when youre first eligible at age 65, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare coverage.
However, if you or your spouse are still working and covered under an employer-provided group health plan, talk to your personnel office before signing up for Medicare Part B. Once the covered employment ends, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B. If so, you wont have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
Also Check: Sociasecurity
How Fra Is Changing If You’re Turning 66 In 2022
Amendments to Social Security in 1983 slowly phased in a change to FRA. As the chart below shows, here is when full retirement age is, based on the year you were born.
Data source: Social Security Administration.
As you can see, if you’ll celebrate your 66th birthday in 2022, your FRA will be 66 and four months — two full months later than it was for people who turned 66 last year and four months after most retirees who came before you.
The result of this change is that if you want your full benefit without any penalties imposed, you’ll have to wait for an extra two months in order to get it. This, unfortunately, is a de facto benefits cut, since you’re faced with either giving up two months of income this year or accepting less in each monthly check going forward.
It also means that if you max out your delayed retirement credits, you’ll still get two fewer months of them versus what retirees in previous years could earn. So the amount you can expand your benefits by waiting to file for them is reduced.
Make sure you’re aware of this big change when you make your decision about when to start Social Security checks — and when calculating how much income your monthly benefits can provide.
When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits
A secure comfortable retirement is every worker’s dream. And now because we are living longer healthier lives, we can expect to spend even more time in retirement than our parents and grandparents did. Hi, I am Mike Baksa of the Social Security Administration. As a Social Security representative, I am often asked what is the best age to start receiving retirement benefits? The answer is there really is no one best age for everyone. You can start your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Your monthly benefit amount will be different depending on the age you start receiving it.
If you begin receiving benefits before your full retirement age, you will receive a reduced benefit. You can choose to retire as early as age 62, but doing so will result in lower benefits. On the other hand, starting your benefits after full retirement age may result in larger benefits. With delayed retirement credits you can receive your largest benefit by beginning to receive benefit payments at age 70. If you were born between 1943 and 1954 and are now considering retirement, the reduction for early retirement at age 62 is 25 percent. Then again, delaying benefits until age 70 results in an increase of 32 percent. The increase in full retirement age was the result of the 1983 amendments to the Social Security act by Congress.
You May Like: Soicial Security
What A Social Security Break
In a nutshell, a Social Security break-even calculator can tell you when the best age is to start taking Social security benefits, in terms of how much money you could expect to receive over time. Going back to the previous example, lets assume that you track your benefit amounts over a 10-year, 20-year and 30-year period. Heres how your total benefits received would look over each of those periods, for all three starting points.
Your cumulative benefits after 10 years:
- $144,000, starting at age 62
- $122,400, starting at age 66
- $52,800, starting at age 70
Your cumulative benefits after 20 years:
- $288,000, starting at age 62
- $326,400, starting at age 66
- $316,800, starting at age 70
Your cumulative benefits after 30 years:
- $432,000, starting at age 62
- $530,400, starting at age 66
- $580,800, starting at age 70
You can see that youd draw the most Social Security benefits in total if you wait until age 70 to start taking them, assuming you live to age 100. But that could be a big if when youre not in the best health.
What you have to keep in mind when using a Social Security break-even calculator is that the numbers are hypothetical. They dont take into things that could affect your ability to draw benefits or how far those benefits might go, such as: