Claiming Social Security Benefits At The Right Time Means More Money In Your Pocket Here’s A Guide To Everything From Knowing Your Full Retirement Age To Taking Social Security Spousal Benefits
For many Americans, Social Security benefits are the bedrock of retirement income. Maximizing that stream of income is critical to funding your retirement dreams.
The rules for claiming Social Security benefits can be complex, but this guide will help you wade through the details. By educating yourself about Social Security, you can ensure that you claim the maximum amount to which you are entitled.
Here are 12 essential details you need to know.
How Workers Can Get Estimates Of Benefits
The Social Security Administration provides benefit estimates to workers through the Social Security Statement. The Statement can be accessed online by opening an online account with SSA called my Social Security. With that account, workers can also construct “what if” scenarios, helping them to understand the effect on monthly benefits if they work additional years or delay the start of retirement benefits. The my Social Security account also offers other services, allowing individuals to request a replacement Social Security card or check the status of an application.
A printed copy of the Social Security Statement is mailed to workers age 60 or older.
In 2021, SSA began producing Retirement Ready fact sheets, available online and as part of the online Statement, that tailor retirement planning information to different age groups .
SSA also has a Benefits Calculators web page with several stand-alone online calculators that help individuals estimate their benefits and prepare for retirement. These include benefit calculators for spouses, calculators for persons affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision or the Government Pension Offset and calculators to determine a person’s full retirement age or the effect of the earnings test on benefits.
SSA also provides a life expectancy calculator to help with retirement planning.
Demographic And Revenue Projections
|This section’s factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. The reason given is: Several of these projected dates have passed, and some language referring to data as ‘current’, ‘latest’, ‘most recent’, etc. is as old as 2005, or undated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.|
In 2005, this exhaustion of the OASDI Trust Fund was projected to occur in 2041 by the Social Security Administration or by 2052 by the Congressional Budget Office, CBO. Thereafter, however, the projection for the exhaustion date of this event was moved up slightly after the recession worsened the U.S. economy’s financial picture. The 2011 OASDI Trustees Report stated:
Annual cost exceeded non-interest income in 2010 and is projected to continue to be larger throughout the remainder of the 75-year valuation period. Nevertheless, from 2010 through 2022, total trust fund income, including interest income, is more than is necessary to cover costs, so trust fund assets will continue to grow during that time. Beginning in 2023, trust fund assets will diminish until they become exhausted in 2036. Non-interest income is projected to be sufficient to support expenditures at a level of 77 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2036, and then to decline to 74 percent of scheduled benefits in 2085.
Ways to eliminate the projected shortfall
Avoid Social Security Tax Traps
Either 50% or 85% of your benefits can be subject to federal taxation. In 2020, income tax is imposed on 50% of your Social Security check if your combined income falls between $25,000 to $34,000 for single filers and $32,000 to $44,000 for joint filers.
For single filers with more than $34,000 in combined income and joint filers with more than $44,000, you can look forward to an income tax of 85% on your Social Security benefits. If youre looking to avoid this, try reducing your taxable income to reduce the amount of taxes. This can be achieved by looking at all of your adjusted gross income and evenly distributing your funds over the span of a few years, so there are no sudden increases or decreases.
Claim That It Is A Ponzi Scheme
Critics have drawn parallels between Social Security and Ponzi schemes, arguing that the sustenance of Social Security is due to continuous contributions over time. One criticism of the analogy is that while Ponzi schemes and Social Security have similar structures , they have different transparencies. In the case of a Ponzi scheme, the fact that there is no return-generating mechanism other than contributions from new entrants is obscured whereas Social Security payouts have always been openly underwritten by incoming tax revenue and the interest on the Treasury bonds held by or for the Social Security system. The sudden loss of confidence resulting in a collapse of a conventional Ponzi scheme when the scheme’s true nature is revealed is unlikely to occur in the case of the Social Security system. Private sector Ponzi schemes are also vulnerable to collapse because they cannot compel new entrants, whereas participation in the Social Security program is a condition for joining the U.S. labor force. In connection with these and other issues, Robert E. Wright calls Social Security a “quasi” pyramid scheme in his book, Fubarnomics.
Social Security Quick Calculator
You can get a more accurate prediction if you’re willing to input a few pieces of information to the Social Security Quick Calculator. All you need is your birthdate, current salary, and future retirement date. You can view your benefits estimate in today’s dollars or future dollars, adjusted for inflation. There is a place to add your projected retirement date, but you can leave that field blank to see benefits estimates for claiming at age 62, at Full Retirement Age , or at age 70.
The table below shows some results from the Quick Calculator, assuming a $100,000 salary.
Table data source: IRS.gov
As you can see, a younger person today making $100,000 earns the highest benefit. The calculator assumes your earnings gradually rise 2% annually to reach $100,000 in the current year, and then remain at $100,000 until you retire. In that model, someone who is 35 and earning $100,000 today will make that six-figure salary for 29 years. But the person who is 60 and just reached the $100,000 salary mark only has four more years to earn that amount. Even the inflation indexing that Social Security does with past-year wages isn’t enough to overcome the assumptions that the calculator makes. The 60-year-old has a lower income average over time and, therefore, earns a lower Social Security benefit.
Let Your Family In On Your Social Security Benefits
In addition to your spouse, your minor children who are biological, step- or adopted can receive payments that amount to one-half of your full allocation on a monthly basis. Each individual needs to fit certain parameters to receive these benefits. There is also a limit to the amount your family members can claim based on a workers earnings record. This is also known as a family benefit maximum . This maximum only applies when there are multiple-payment recipients on one record.
Restrictions On Potentially Deceptive Communications
Because of the importance of Social Security to millions of Americans, many direct-mail marketers packaged their mailings to resemble official communications from the Social Security Administration, hoping recipients would be more likely to open them. In response, Congress amended the Social Security Act in 1988 to prohibit the private use of the phrase “Social Security” and several related terms in any way that would convey a false impression of approval from the Social Security Administration. The constitutionality of this law was upheld in United Seniors Association, Inc. v. Social Security Administration, 423 F.3d 397 , cert den 547 U.S. 1162 126 S.Ct. 2346 .
Social Security Disability Benefits
The definition of disabled held by the SSA is quite strict. You only qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you are severely disabled with a condition that entirely prevents your workingand is expected to last a year or longer or result in your death.
You also must have earned enough credits to receive payments. If you are at least age 62, you will need to have earned the full 40 credits to qualify for disability payments. Younger applicants require fewer credits, down to a minimum of six credits for those younger than 24. You also need to have been working when the disability began. Your spouse and children may qualify for benefits as well, potentially receiving up to half of the amount to which you are entitled each month.
If approved, then your disability benefits will begin six months after the date when your disability began. Payments are based on your lifetime earnings.
Recommended Reading: Can I Locate Someone By Their Social Security Number
Workers Who Retire In Certain Foreign Countries
U.S. citizens who travel toor live inmost foreign countries after they retire usually can receive Social Security benefits. However, if that country is Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan, then the government will not send them Social Security payments. Exceptions may be available in all of these countries except Cuba and North Korea. Use the governments Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if you will be able to continue receiving Social Security benefits while living abroad.
How Much Will I Get From Social Security
Your retirement benefit is based on your lifetime earnings in work in which you paid Social Security taxes. Higher income translates to a bigger benefit . The amount you are entitled to is modified by other factors, most crucially the age at which you claim benefits.
For reference, the estimated average Social Security retirement benefit in 2021 is $1,543 a month. The maximum benefit the most an individual retiree can get is $3,148 a month for someone who files for Social Security in 2021 at full retirement age, or FRA .
Youll only know your own amount for sure when you apply, but there are ways to get a sense of it in advance. The quickest and easiest is to use AARPs Social Security Benefits Calculator or check your online My Social Security account. The latter draws on your earnings record on file with the Social Security Administration for the AARP calculator, youll need to provide your average annual income.
Both tools project what you could collect each month if you start Social Security at age 62, the earliest you can file at full retirement age, currently 66 and 2 months and gradually rising to 67 and at age 70. Between 62 and FRA, Social Security reduces your benefit for filing early between FRA and 70, it increases your payment as a reward for waiting.
Keep in mind
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Recommended Reading: How Much Tax Will I Pay On Social Security
Here’s How To Estimate Your Social Security Benefit From Your Salary
Fortune tellers use crystal balls, tea leaves, and tarot cards to see the future. Thankfully, you don’t have to resort to psychic tools and mystical arts to predict your Social Security benefit. The Social Security Administration opts for a more concrete approach, in the form of online calculators and other estimators.
In 2020, the average Social Security benefit is $1,503 monthly and the maximum benefit is $3,790. A six-figure salary translates into a benefit that’s between those two numbers — but where the benefit lands, exactly, is influenced by other factors beyond your current income. Your income in prior years, your age today, and the timing of your benefits claim are also important. If you’re willing to make some assumptions, it is possible to estimate your future monthly Social Security benefit.
How Much Will Social Security Pay You
Many retirees depend on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their monthly income after retirement. If you are nearing retirement age, youre probably wondering, How much does Social Security pay? On the other hand, if you become disabled and unable to work, will Social Security disability payments be enough to get you by? While the exact formula to calculating your payments is highly secretive, there are some ways that you can estimate your payments accurately. There are a number of factors that go into this calculation such as your earnings history, work credits, retirement age, and age at which you begin receiving benefits. Using the steps outlined in this article, you should understand how Social Security payments work and how much you can expect to receive when you begin your benefits.
Also Check: Social Security Office Silverdale
What Percentage Of Social Security Benefits Does A Widow Or Widower Receive
A widow or widower will receive a portion of the deceaseds monthly benefits, and the percentage varies based on your full retirement age and a few other factors.
For anyone born after 1960, full retirement age is 67 years old. If you were born before that date, usethe SSAs tool to determine yours. Heres a rundown of what a widow or widower can expect with percentage breakdowns. Also, keep in mind that the more money the deceased contributed to Social Security, the bigger the benefits will be for the widow or widower.
- Full retirement age or older: 100 percent
- Widow or widower between the age of 60 and full retirement age: 5 percent to 99 percent
- Disabled widow or widower between the age of 50 and 59: 5 percent
- A widow or widower of any age caring for a child under 16: 75 percent
In addition to the percentage of monthly benefits, you may be able to receive a $255 lump-sum death payment.
Children under the age of 18 can receive 75 percent of the benefits.
Dont Miss: How To Calculate Disability Retirement Pay
Or Go All The Way And Work Until 70
The longer you hold off receiving your Social Security benefits, up to age 70, the bigger your check. So each month after youve reached your FRA, your payout increases by roughly 0.7% percent , which amounts to 8% per year. If you wait till age 70 then, your payments will be 32% bigger than if you had started taking benefits at 66. Once you turn 70 though, there is no added benefit in postponing payments.
Of course, working until 70 isnt for everyone, and theres no penalty in claiming your benefits when you reach your FRA. You will receive 100% of your benefit. Its also not a sure thing that waiting until 70 maximizes your lifetime benefit. After all, should you pass away the following year, waiting that long will mean you received far less total benefits than if youd claimed them as soon as you were eligible to. So consider your life expectancy as you make this decision.
How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
To people with disabilities
To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits
How To Qualify For Ssi Benefits
You can get Social Security Disability benefits even if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. The SSA offers the SSI program to disabled adults and children who have limited financial resources. It is a safety net so that people who cannot work for a living but do not qualify to collect SSDI can pay for essential items, like food, clothing, and shelter.
To qualify, you have to meet the same medical disability standards as a person does for SSDI. In addition, your income must be low, and your countable assets cannot exceed certain limits. Specifically, you could qualify for SSI benefits if:
- You have a severe illness or injury that meets the benchmarks of the SSAs Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book.
- Your disability prevents you from supporting yourself through gainful employment.
- You have very little income. This income limit can change every year. In addition, the income limit tends to vary by location because SSI is a joint program of the federal and state governments.
- Your countable assets do not exceed the SSI limit. This number can also change every year. Your home and the land it is on do not count as assets. Most cars also do not count toward your resources.
You must satisfy all of these elements to be eligible for SSI benefits. If you are struggling to understand the qualifications for SSDI or SSI, our firm can help you navigate these matters and apply for the benefits you may be entitled to because of your medical condition.
Whats Full Retirement Age
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