How To Get A Social Security Card
Get Started Applying For Survivors Benefits
If you are already receiving disability benefits, the SSA will automatically change them to survivors benefits after they receive notification of the workers death. If you had not been receiving disability benefits already, you need to apply for survivors benefits. The sooner you apply for survivors benefits, the better, as they may not be retroactive.
To start the application for survivors benefits, you can contact the SSA by phone or find your local SSA office. You cannot apply for survivors benefits, or report a death to the SSA, online. Be sure to notify the SSA of the workers death as soon as possible. Usually, the funeral home making the arrangements for the worker will notify the SSA for you if you provide them with the workers social security number.
When you have an application appointment with the SSA, be sure to bring the following documents that apply to your specific circumstances:
- Proof of death
- Proof of adoption
When Can You Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits
If you have developed a condition that is expected to prevent you from working full time for a year or longer, you are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits right away. The sooner you act, the more likely that your benefits will be available to you when you need them.
At Slepian Ellexson, PLLC, we are committed to providing our clients with skilled guidance through the process of applying for disability benefits. If you are concerned about when you can apply for Social Security, we can answer your questions and explain your options.
When Should You Start Social Security
The Social Security Administration does not have a recommended age to start receiving benefits. The decision is entirely up to you. You’ll get a little less if you start early, or a bigger benefit if you wait until 70. You can calculate the difference on the SSA website. You may receive a bigger payout over your lifetime if you wait, but that might not be as important as receiving income now, especially if you can no longer work for health reasons. Ultimately, the right age depends on your financial situation, your work, and your health.
Eligibility For Survivors Benefits
If you are the widow or widower of the deceased, you may be eligible for survivors benefits under a variety of different circumstances. You can receive full benefits, for instance, when you reach your full survivor retirement age. This is between 65 and 67, depending on your birth year.
At 60, you can receive partial survivors benefits, and at 50, you can receive full benefits if you are disabled, and have been for at least seven years before the workers death.
You can receive full benefits at any age if you care for the workers children, who must be under 16 or disabled themselves. Also note that if you remarry after age 60, or 50 if you are disabled, the marriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits from your deceased spouse.
If you divorced the worker before their death, you are still eligible for survivors benefits under the same rules as a widow or widower, as long as you were married to the worker for ten years or more.
For a workers child to qualify for survivors benefits, they must be unmarried and under 18 years old, or 19 if in secondary school. If the child became disabled before age 22 and is still disabled, they are eligible for benefits no matter what their age. Stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren may also be eligible for survivors benefits if they meet certain criteria.
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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.
The Importance Of Medical Records
The Social Security Administration also needs your medical records from those doctors, hospitals, therapists, caseworkers and clinics that you have personally seen or visited, and any lab and test results.
Attach a work summary, including the places where you worked and what type of work you did, and your current W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, or a Federal tax return if you’re self-employed.
Besides your basic Social Security disability benefits application, you’ll need other forms completed. One form will list all information about your medical condition and how your disability affects your ability to work.
Some of the other forms will grant hospitals, doctors and other healthcare professionals whom you have seen the permission to send information about your medical condition.
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Current Earnings Can Also Impact Your Benefits
Another consideration in when to apply for Social Security is whether you currently have any income due to a full-time or part-time job. Many people work well into their 60s these days, and Social Security will only allow you to earn so much per year before they begin withholding benefits.
In 2022, you can earn up to $19,560/year in the years before you reach your FRA. If you go over this amount, Social Security can withhold $1 in benefits for every $2 that you go over the limit.
The allowed annual earnings go up considerably during the year of your FRA. In 2022, you can earn up to $51,690 in the months before you reach your FRA. If you go over that limit, they will withhold $1 for every $3 earned.
One good thing is that you dont permanently lose these dollars. Instead, Social Security re-factors them into your future benefits. Also, once you reach your FRA, there is no longer any annual earnings test. You can earn as much income as you like and still receive your full monthly benefit check.
Social Security Benefits If Youre Married
Determining Social Security calculations is a bit more complicated if you are married because you have the option to base benefits on your spouses salary history.
If the lesser earning spouses benefits are based on the higher earning spouses, then the limit of those earnings will be 50 percent of the higher earning spouses benefit amount.
To illustrate this, lets talk about A and B, a married couple.
- A makes significantly more money than B.
- A makes so much more money that As monthly Social Security benefits are going to be more than twice of Bs, based on Bs salary history.
- The good news for B is that they can choose to have their Social Security benefits based on As salary history and can receive as much as 50 percent of As monthly benefit. This is the case even if B didnt hold a job outside the home.
On the other hand, if Bs monthly benefit would have been more than half of As, based on Bs salary history, then B can claim that amount.
In short, B can claim the higher of these two possibilities: Bs own Social Security earnings or half of As.
This all assumes that B doesnt begin claiming benefits until B reaches full retirement age. If B begins claiming earlier, then Bs benefits will be less. In addition, if B is claiming benefits based on As earnings, then B does not benefit by waiting later than full retirement age.
B will not be given more monthly benefits if B waits until age 70, for example, based on As earnings.
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Supplementing Your Social Security Income
For many retirees, the income they receive from Social Security is not enough to live off of: According to AARP, the estimated average Social Security monthly benefit in 2022 is $1,657. If you haven’t started saving for retirement it’s essential to start early so you can take advantage of the power of compound interest .
If your company offers an employer-sponsored 401 with matching contributions, you should prioritize receiving the match because it’s essentially free money.
With a traditional IRA, individuals invest pretax income and don’t pay taxes until they withdraw their earnings. With a Roth IRA individuals invest after-tax money so their withdrawals are tax-free. A Roth IRA is considered a good option for those who anticipate being in a higher income tax bracket in retirement: Rather than paying higher taxes later on, you’ll pay taxes on your contributions upfront.
A Roth IRA, however, is not available to everyone. For 2022, the income limit for single-filers is $144,000 and for married couples filing jointly it’s $204,000. Companies like Vanguard, Wealthfront, Betterment, and Fidelity Investments all provide traditional and Roth IRA options.
Youre Concerned Social Security Will Disappear
Some people are concerned about potential Social Security changes in the future, such as higher retirement ages, lower benefits or higher taxes on benefits. As a result, they want to take the sure thing as soon as possible. In a 2017 Social Security summary, the government said Social Security trust funds will be depleted in 2034. Even then, however, annual Social Security taxes are projected to keep benefits at almost three-fourths of current levels.
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What About Taxes On Social Security
Keep in mind that Social Security benefits may be taxable, depending on your combined income. Your combined income is equal to your adjusted gross income , plus non-taxable interest payments , plus half of your Social Security benefit.
As your combined income increases above a certain threshold , more of your benefit is subject to income tax, up to a maximum of 85%. For help, talk with a CPA or tax professional.
In any case, if you’re still working, you may want to postpone Social Security either until you reach your full retirement age or until your earned income is less than the annual limit. In no situation should you postpone benefits past age 70.
How Long Does It Take To Process Social Security Retirement Benefits
If you are considering retiring from the workforce in the near future, one of the most important things you’ll need to know is how long it will take for you to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits after you apply for them. While it generally takes approximately six weeks for an application to be processed, it is advisable for you to initiate the process three months before you want to receive your first benefit payment.
It usually takes around six weeks to process your Social Security application for retirement benefits, but applying a few months before you need your payments is recommended.
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You Have A Shorter Life Expectancy
The government incentivizes waiting to collect your Social Security benefits by giving you a larger monthly amount the longer you delay. For example, if you start collecting benefits at age 62 when your full retirement age is 66, your monthly benefit will be about 75% of your full-age benefit. So if you expected your monthly benefit to be $1,000 per month at 66, you would only receive around $750 at 62.
Although a larger monthly benefit might sound great, keep in mind that youd have to wait four years to get that extra $250 per month. You would receive $36,000 during those four years at the reduced amount of $750 per month.
When you start collecting $1,000 at age 66, that extra $250 per month wont let you break even for 12 years compared to collecting early. If your health is declining and you dont expect to live until youre 78, youll receive more in benefits during your lifetime if you start claiming as soon as possible.
Spouses Who Dont Qualify For Their Own Social Security
Spouses who didnt work at a paid job or didnt earn enough credits to qualify for Social Security on their own are eligible to receive benefits starting at age 62 based on their spouses record. As with claiming benefits on your own record, your spousal benefit will be reduced if you take it before reaching your FRA. The highest spousal benefit that you can receive is half of the benefit that your spouse is entitled to at their FRA.
While spouses get a lower benefit if they claim before reaching their own FRA, they will not get a larger spousal benefit by waiting to claim after their FRAsay, at age 70. However, a nonworking or lower-earning spouse may get a larger spousal benefit if the working spouse has some late-career, high-earning years that boost their benefits.
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Social Security: How Far In Advance Can I Apply
The rule of thumb is the earlier you decide to take distributions, the smaller your monthly check will be if you waited until full retirement age or the maximum age of 70 to take advantage of benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration, the earliest you can be eligible to receive benefits is 62 years of age but you must be 62 for the entire month. This means if you turn 62 on the 28th of the month, you must wait until the next month to claim benefits for the first time.
If you were born on the first or second day of the month, you meet this requirement at the moment of your 62nd birthday. If you were born on any other day of the month, you do not meet this requirement until the following month.
The SSA states you can apply up to four months before you want your retirement benefits to start. This is the earliest you can apply for social security benefits to make sure your benefits begin to distribute as soon as you reach 62. For example, if you turn 62 on Dec. 2, you can start your benefits as early as December and begin the application process in August.
According to the administration, even if you are not ready to retire you should still sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.
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When Can You Start Receiving Social Security Benefits
You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70. According to the Social Security Administration, you are entitled to full benefits when you reach normal retirement age or “full retirement age.” Learn more about when you can draw Social Security benefits.
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How Long Does It Take For My Application To Be Processed
In most cases, it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 months for your application to be processed and for a decision to be made.
The process depends on how long it takes Social Security to receive your records, go over your application, confirm your documentation, and calculate your benefits.
If you provided insufficient or incorrect documents, your application may be rejected. Make sure to double-check all the documents you provide. Confirm they are up to date, correct, and original copies.
Social Security Benefits For Surviving Spouses
If your spouse was receiving Social Security benefits upon their death, you must report the death as soon as possible. You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays or visit your local Social Security office in person.
You are eligible for a one-time, lump-sum death benefit of $255 from Social Security if:
- You were receiving benefits on your spouses record at the time of death, or
- If you were living in the same household as your spouse at the time of death.
Any benefits received in the name of your spouse during the month of death or later must be returned to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.
If your spouse worked long enough under Social Security, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. You must be age 60 or older or disabled and 50 or older to qualify.
How much youll receive depends on the percentage of your spouses benefit as well as your age and the type of benefit youre eligible for.
You must apply for survivor benefits in person. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment.