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%
How The Full Retirement Age Affects Social Security
Full retirement age also affects the Social Security program as a whole. Americans are living longer and the working-age population is shrinking. Some have proposed raising the FRA to 70, based on predictions that the Social Security reserve fund could run out of money by 2034.
Even if the reserve fund is depleted, however, future retirees should expect to get something from Social Security. Social Security income is taxable, which generates revenue. Plus, the Social Security program gets funding from the interest generated by trust funds. So future retirees will likely receive around 75% of every dollar that they currently contribute to the program.
How To File Social Security Income On Your Federal Taxes
Once you calculate the amount of your taxable Social Security income, you will need to enter that amount on your income tax form. Luckily, this part is easy. First, find the total amount of your benefits. This will be in box 3 of your Form SSA-1099. Then, on Form 1040, you will write the total amount of your Social Security benefits on line 5a and the taxable amount on line 5b.
Note that if you are filing or amending a tax return for the 2017 tax year or earlier, you will need to file with either Form 1040-A or 1040. The 2017 1040-EZ did not allow you to report Social Security income.
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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.
Should You Jump On The Retirement Bandwagon
If you’re thinking about retiring, an estimated 6% COLA hike might tempt you to throw in the towel at work and claim Social Security benefits at 62. But heres why you dont want to do that.
And she uncovered something most people don’t know.
Her take is that anyone who is age 62 or older in 2022 and who is eligible for Social Security will profit from next years COLA even if they have not yet filed for benefits.
I worry that some people may rush to claim Social Security this year to benefit from the exceptionally large cost-of-living adjustment expected next January,” Franklin told me by email.
“Im sure most people do not realize that they automatically will benefit from next years COLA even if they have not yet filed for Social Security as long as they are at least 62 or older in 2022,” said Franklin, who wrote “Maximizing Social Security Benefits,” an online book that is available for $29.95 at MaximizingSocialSecurityBenefits.com.
If there are future inflation adjustments, she noted, those who are 62 and older would see inflation adjustments baked into future payments each year until they claim benefits all the way up to when they reach age 70.
She points out that the Social Security Administration notes: “Youre eligible for cost-of-living benefit increases starting with the year you become age 62. This is true even if you dont get benefits until your full retirement age or even age 70.”
Those who turn 62 next year and afterward face another issue, too.
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Increasing The Eligibility Age For Social Security Pensions
Social Security faces a long-term financing problem. Many young workers believe the problem is so severe they may never receive a Social Security check. The most logical solution to Social Securitys financing problem is to trim promised benefits and increase payroll taxes moderately. A sensible way to reduce future benefits is to increase the early eligibility age and normal retirement age for retirement pensions. This reform is justified by the substantial increase in life spans that has occurred since Social Security was established in the 1930s. An increase in life spans, when the normal retirement age remains unchanged, is equivalent to a sizable increase in lifetime Social Security benefits.
Increasing the retirement age is unpopular with voters. Unfortunately, so are all other reforms that would restore Social Security to solvency, including tax hikes and cuts in the formula for calculating full pensions.
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, says Neiser.
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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Why Did The Full Retirement Age Change
Full retirement age, also called “normal retirement age,” was 65 for many years. In 1983, Congress passed a law to gradually raise the age because people are living longer and are generally healthier in older age.
The law raised the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later. The retirement age gradually increases by a few months for every birth year, until it reaches 67 for people born in 1960 and later.
Whether You’re Still Working
Once you reach your full retirement age, you can continue to work and still get your full Social Security benefits penalty-free. Individuals under full retirement age for the entire year who have already begun claiming benefits and earn over the annual limit will be penalized with a $1 deduction from their benefit payment for every $2 earned above that limit . You’ll still get credit for those earnings, and the SSA will recalculate your benefit once you reach full retirement age.
» CALCULATOR: How much money will you need to retire at 67?
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Your Monthly Social Security Benefits Grow The Longer You Wait To Claim
You can collect Social Security benefits as soon as you turn 62, but taking benefits before your full retirement age results in a permanent benefits reduction of as much as 25% to 30%, depending on your full retirement age.
If you wait until you hit full retirement age to claim Social Security benefits, youll receive 100% of your earned benefits. Or you can keep waiting to claim your Social Security benefits all the way to age 70. There’s a big bonus to delaying your claim — your monthly Social Security benefit will grow by 8% a year until age 70. Any cost-of-living adjustments will be included, too, so you don’t forgo those by waiting.
Waiting to claim your Social Security benefits can benefit your heirs as well. By waiting to take his benefit, a high-earning husband, for example, can ensure that his low-earning wife will receive a much higher survivor benefit in the event he dies before her. That extra income of up to 32% could make a big difference for a widow whose household is down to one Social Security benefit.
Social Security Disability Benefits Increased
Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance program in which workers can earn coverage for benefits by paying Social Security taxes through their paycheck. The program provides income for those who can no longer work due to a disability, to help replace some of their lost income. Payments increased slightly in 2020 for the nearly 10 million Americans who receive Social Security disability benefits.
Disabled workers will receive on average $1,277 per month in 2021, up from $1,261 in 2020. However, for a disabled worker, a spouse with one or more children, theyll be paid on average $2,224 per month, an increase of $29 from 2020.
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If You’re Eligible For Benefits On Someone Else’s Record
If you’re half of a twosome even a divorced twosome the effect of all the issues above should be considered for both parties and, if living together, on you as a couple. For example, a spouse in poor health may want to start benefits earlier while the healthier one delays filing. Or if you’re the higher earner, you may want to delay receiving a heftier benefit while you’re still alive and, if you die first, leave behind higher survivor protection for your spouse.
Watch Out For Hidden Costs
Youll also want to consider other lifestyle factors, especially Medicare. Americans become eligible for federal health insurance coverage at age 65, well after when you can begin to file for Social Security.
If you stop working at age 62 and lose health insurance, you have to get supplemental insurance to bridge the gap until you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in, Neiser says.
If you work during retirement, you have another incentive to delay collecting Social Security. Earning too much at a job after you begin collecting your benefit can reduce your payout, but only if you have yet to hit full retirement age.
However, when you hit full retirement age, your benefit will increase to account for any benefit that was withheld earlier due to working. Heres how much you can earn and not get hit.
If youre younger than full retirement age for all of 2021, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 of your monthly check for every $2 you earn above $18,960 per year.
If you reach full retirement age in 2021, the administration deducts $1 of your monthly check for every $3 you earn above $50,520 until the month you reach retirement age.
Youll also owe Social Security and Medicare tax on your earnings, even if youre already receiving benefits.
So those are some potential pitfalls to claiming Social Security early.
Claiming Social Security At Age 70
If you are able to delay claiming your Social Security benefit until you reach age 70, you will earn a significantly higher benefit. After your Full Retirement Age of 66 , your benefit goes up by eight percent each year. Consequently, if your full retirement benefit at age 66 was $1,000 per month, and you delay claiming your benefit, it will be $1,080 per month by age 67 or an additional $960 per year. If you delay until age 70, it will be 124 percent of your expected benefit or $1,240 a month. That comes out to $2,880 more each year.
Delaying past age 70 will not increase your benefit, however.
Working After Full Retirement Age Faq
Retirees may work while collecting Social Security benefits, but those younger than their FRA will be subject to the retirement earnings test .
Under this test, if your earnings exceed a certain limit , you will temporarily forfeit some or all of your benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefit is recalculated and you may receive most of that money back.
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The Full Retirement Age For Social Security
The full retirement age or normal retirement age in the U.S. ranges from 65 to 67, depending on your year of birth.
Is it possible to get your benefits before then? Yes. The earliest you can begin claiming Social Security benefits is age 62, but there is a catch: By claiming early, youll get a reduced monthly benefit. For someone whose full retirement age is 67, starting benefits at age 62 means taking a nearly 30% monthly hit.
On the flip side, if that person waits until age 67 to draw benefits, theyd get 100%. From there, it gets better if they can hold off until 70, their monthly take could increase by as much as 8% a year.
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Do Survivor Benefits Increase After Full Retirement Age
If you are the surviving spouse who is claiming benefits based on your deceased partner’s work record, there is no benefit to waiting until after FRA to claim your benefits. You do not earn delayed retirement credits, so your benefit will not increase.
However, if you are the higher-earning spouse, delaying your claim for benefits until after FRA can result in your widow receiving more monthly income, as your widowed partner will receive the higher of the two monthly benefits you were each receiving.
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What Are Nursing Homes
This is an advanced form of Assisted Living Centers for seniors requiring registered nurses and/or occupational therapists. Residents are typically in medical recovery or with chronic conditions that require consistent check-ups. Many nursing home residents have serious conditions like Alzheimers disease. Costs for nursing homes can add up to $90,000 a year on average.
Social Security Retirement Age
Full retirement age is when you first become eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. If you were born before that, the age is somewhere between 65 and 66 years and 10 months, depending on your birth year.
No matter what your full retirement is, you can start collecting benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Your birth year and your age when you start to collect benefits affect your monthly benefit amount.
|Social Security Benefits by Age and Year of Birth|
Year of Birth
You can earn delayed retirement credits each month that you wait to collect beyond your full retirement age, up until age 70. This increases your monthly payment by two-thirds of 1% for each month that you waitor 8% a year.
Even though more money is usually better, that’s not always the case with collecting Social Security benefits. Here are four times when it might be better to forgo the larger check and start collecting benefits sooner.
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 record. 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 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’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 take a benefit on the ex’s record if you have been divorced for at least two years.
Note: Ex-spouses can also take a survivor benefit if their ex has 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.
Total Benefits Paid By Year
Workers in Social Security covered employment pay FICA or SECA taxes and earn quarters of coverage if earnings are above minimum amounts specified in the law. Workers with 40 quarters of coverage are “fully insured” and eligible for retirement benefits. Retirement benefit amounts depend upon the average of the person’s highest 35 years of “adjusted” or “indexed” earnings. A person’s payroll-taxable earnings from earlier years are adjusted for economy-wide wage growth, using the national average wage index , and then averaged. If the worker has fewer than 35 years of covered earnings these non-contributory years are assigned zero earnings. The sum of the highest 35 years of adjusted or indexed earnings divided by 420 produces a person’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME.
The AIME is then used to calculate the Primary Insurance Amount or PIA. For workers who turn 62 in 2021, the PIA computation formula is:
90 percent of the first $996 of average indexed monthly earnings, plus
32 percent of average indexed monthly earnings between $996 and $6,002, plus
15 percent of average indexed monthly earnings over $6,002
Monthly benefit amounts are based on the PIA. Once the PIA is computed, it is indexed for price inflation over time. Thus, Social Security monthly benefit amounts retain their purchasing power throughout a person’s retirement years.
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