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How To Check Your Social Security Amount

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Delay Claiming Social Security Benefits

Here’s how to check if someone else filed taxes with your social security number

The simplest way to increase your monthly payments is to delay claiming Social Security benefits. The Social Security Agency allows all Americans to start benefits at the early retirement age of 62, but doing so can reduce your monthly payment paycheck.

If you choose to begin receiving Social Security early, for each month there is between when you start and your full retirement age you lose about half a percentage point of the total value you would have earned if youd waited.

You could miss out on up to 30% of the monthly payment youd be entitled to at your full retirement age by starting early. If you would receive a monthly benefit of $1,500 at your full retirement age of 67, for instance, starting benefits early at age 62 would reduce that amount to $1,050.

Waiting to start Social Security benefits until after your full retirement age can boost your monthly benefit. According to Eric D. Brotman, CEO of BFG Financial Advisors, there is an 8% annual increase in benefits due for each year you wait from full retirement age through 70.

That means the $1,500 benefit at age 67 could increase by 24% to $1,860 per month if you wait until 70thats the age at which you must begin payments. Just dont wait until after age 70 to start payments.

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.

Women And Racial Minorities Often Earn Less

Unfortunately, women generally receive a lower monthly benefit than men. That is a product of income level, as women have historically earned less than men. In 2019, women age 65 and older received an average annual Social Security income of $13,505, compared to $17,374 for men. Thats about $1,125 per month for women and about $1,447 per month for men. The SSA notes that these lower benefits correlate to lower lifetime earnings and more part-time work.

Keep in mind that the further away you are from retirement, the less accurate the calculations are likely to be.

Women also tend to be more reliant on Social Security. The SSA notes that women at age 65 are expected to live about 21 additional years, compared to 19 years for men. Women reportedly represent 55.3% of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 or older and about 64% of beneficiaries age 85 and above.

Meanwhile, Black men aged 65 and older received an average annual Social Security benefit of about $14,409 in 2019, compared to Black women, who received about $12,806. Thats about $1,200 per month for men and about $1,067 per month for women. Again, that is due to lower lifetime incomes.

Despite these differences in benefit payments, it is worth noting that Social Security is designed to be progressive. Social Security benefits to lower-income earners represent a higher percentage of their pre-retirement income.

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Disability And Survivor Benefits

In addition to retirement benefit eligibility, the statement also provides estimates as to what your monthly income would be if you claimed disability benefits.

There are also estimates for how much monthly income through survivor benefits your eligible spouse or minor children may receive if you pass away.

You Could Help Keep Your Tax Bill Lower

These big mistakes will result in smaller Social Security ...

Many people dont realize that they could end up paying federal income taxes on as much as 85% of their Social Security benefits.

If you file a federal tax return as an individual and your provisional income is between $25,000 and $34,000, then up to 50% of your benefits may be federally taxable as earned income. If your provisional income is more than $34,000, you may have to pay federal income taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.

If you file a joint return and you and your spouse have a provisional income between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits could be taxed. If your provisional income with your spouse is more than $44,000, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.

If you dont have much taxable income in retirement, you may not have to pay any federal taxes on your Social Security benefits. But if youre like many Baby Boomers you may have a hefty amount of your retirement savings in tax-deferred IRAs or 401s and the federal income taxes on those savings could be substantial.

To help with that, you may be able to take distributions from your tax-deferred accounts , etc.) now, and perform some Roth conversions, and/or perhaps conversions to other vehicles that can provide you with tax-free income, such as life insurance, so that Social Security benefits later may not be taxed at all by the federal government.

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How To Stop Social Security Check Payments

The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.

If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.

Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.

Don’t Forget To Claim For Your Children

If you claim retirement, disability or survivors benefits and have dependent children, you can file a claim for them as well. A qualifying child can receive up to 50% of a parent’s full retirement or disability benefit, and up to 75% of a deceased parent’s benefit. However, there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family, with the maximum amount determined as part of every Social Security benefit computation.

To qualify, a child must be either younger than age 18, age 18-19 and a full-time student in grade 12 or lower, or 18 or older with a disability that began before age 18. Although this is not technically your Social Security benefit, it’s still an SSA payment that can help your family make ends meet.

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Using Your Benefit Estimates

As your statement will show, your Social Security retirement benefits will vary depending on when you claim them before or after your full retirement age . The longer you wait to start receiving payments, the higher your benefit amount will be.

However, it’s not always better to wait until your full retirement age to claim your Social Security benefits. If you need your Social Security benefits for living expenses, or you have a health condition that makes it unlikely that you will live past age 75 or so, you may be better off collecting your benefits sooner rather than later. You can use a calculator at the Social Security website to see which retirement age makes the most financial sense for you .

For comprehensive practical information about how and when to claim Social Security benefits, see Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions, by Joseph Matthews with Dorothy Matthews Berman .

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  • Keep Your Income In Check

    3 Ways To Find Out Your Social Security Disability Check Amount

    If you want to maximize your Social Security benefits, you’ll have to keep an eye on your outside earnings. For 2021, if you’re younger than full retirement age, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above $18,960. If you reached full retirement age in 2021, your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn above $50,520 until you hit the month of full retirement age. After you hit full retirement age, there are no Social Security benefit reductions.

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    In A Rush To File For Social Security Benefits At Age 62 Many People Are But Slow Down And Do The Math First Or You Might Regret It

    When it comes to claiming Social Security retirement benefits, you may want to consider waiting to start benefits when youre 70.

    That means not starting benefits when youre 62 , nor even full retirement age .

    I know that starting benefits at age 70 might be a tough thing to reconcile with but it doesnt mean that you have to work until youre 70.

    Here are three reasons why delaying taking your Social Security benefit to age 70 is a decision you may want to consider:

    Can You Still Work While Receiving Social Security

    You can continue to work while you receive Social Security benefits. But there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. The earning limit may be adjusted each year.

    If you earn above the limit, Social Security will deduct a certain amount of your benefits each year.

    Social Security Benefits, Earning Limits and Penalties

    SSA deducts $1 from your benefits for every $3 you earn above the limit

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    How To Get Your Social Security Statement Online

    Your Social Security Statement is available to view online at any time by opening a my Social Security account on This allows users to learn about their future Social Security benefits and to see their current earnings history.

    Make sure to check that your Social Security number is correct on the account, and that your personal details and marital status are up to date. This will ensure that the earnings are all correct.

    For workers aged 60 and over without a Social Security account, your Social Security Statements should be mailed to you three months ahead of your birthday.

    What Are Social Security Credits How Are They Earned

    Will Social Security Checks Grow or Shrink in 2017?

    Social Security credits determine eligibility and benefit amounts in retirement. In 2021, earning $1,470 in income qualifies as earning one Social Security work credit.2 You are eligible to earn up to four credits per year. Most people need 40 credits to qualify for Social Security benefits though younger individuals require fewer credits for disability benefits or for their family members to receive survivors benefits.

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    How Does My Longevity Figure Into This

    This question underscores an important caveat accompanying Mr. Meyers projections, which assume a life span to 90: Not only may your mileage vary it certainly will. Financial advisers routinely illustrate outcomes assuming long life spans as a way to test the retirement plans they draw up.

    Men who reach 65 have a 33 percent chance of living to 90, and women a 44 percent chance, according to the Society of Actuaries. And for married couples, theres a 63 percent chance that one spouse will live to at least 90. Yet a recent study by the society found that half of us wrongly estimate our life expectancy by five or more years, with 23 percent overestimating and 28 percent underestimating.

    Those numbers illustrate the classic argument for Social Securitys value as insurance against outliving our financial resources. But the challenges of the pandemic economy may turn that argument on its head.

    Sometimes an economic analysis points to what seems like a good decision for a large group of people, Mr. Cotton said. Economics can tell you whats best for an entire group of people but youre one person. Its something you need to decide on your own.

    When Should I Take My Social Security Retirement Benefits

    Waiting to collect Social Security benefits may be beneficial if youre able to do so. While the age to receive your full retirement benefit is 66-67 , you can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62. But each month you wait to start collecting increases your eligible benefits.4

    Once you reach full retirement age, youre entitled to 100% of the benefits calculated from your lifetime earnings. If you wait until age 70 to begin collecting Social Security, your retirement benefit will be 32% larger.3

    However, waiting may not be the right choice for everyone. Your advisor will help you determine an approach that reflects your options and your personal situation. For example, they may consider:

    • Varying tax rates on Social Security income
    • Capital gains and IRA withdrawals
    • Health issues

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    Who Can Qualify For Social Security Benefits

    To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, in most cases:

    • You must be 62+ years old, or disabled/unable to work, and
    • You must have sufficient credits earned throughout your working life.3

    To qualify for Social Security spousal retirement benefits:

    • You must be married to a retired worker , and
    • You must have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in your care, or
    • You are 62+ years old.2

    To qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you are under the age of 62:

    • You must be 18+ years old and unable to work due to physical or mental disability, and
    • Your condition is expected to last at least a year or may result in death.3

    You may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits without earning the required 40 credits, depending on the circumstances. Your lifetime earnings and benefits help determine your monthly disability benefit amount.

    To qualify for Social Security survivors benefits:

    • You must be a widow or widower who is 60+ years old , or
    • You must be a widow or widower caring for the deceaseds child who is under the age of 16 or disabled, or
    • You must be a surviving divorced spouse , or
    • A dependent parent who is 62+ years old, or
    • You must be an unmarried child of the deceased and are:
    • Under 18 years old , or
    • 18+ years old with a disability that occurred before you turned 22.3

    Estimate Your Future Earnings

    Social Security Disability 2022 Check Amount Increase

    The benefit estimate you see in your online account assumes your earnings will remain the same for the rest of your working years. If you agree with that assumption, you don’t have to do anything here. But if you plan on getting a raise or even a part-time job to supplement your earnings, that benefit estimate may be too low.

    Look for the chart in your account showing your benefit amounts at different ages. Near the top, you should see an estimate for your average annual future salary. You can tap on that value to adjust the number and recalculate your benefit. You can also use this feature to understand how much impact your future salary would have on your benefit. Simply input different salary levels and see how your benefit changes.

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    Eliminated The Stretch Provision

    The SECURE Act removed the stretch provision, which previously allowed non-spousal beneficiaries to withdraw the required minimum distributions from an inherited IRA until the account was depleted. Non-spousal beneficiaries must withdraw all of the funds in 10 years following the death of the original account holder, a requirement put in place on Jan. 1, 2020.

    Taking Social Security In The Pandemic: What To Know

    Suddenly unemployed older workers who had hoped to delay filing have options that can boost their lifetime benefits.

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    The trend has been moving in a positive direction: Over the past decade, far more workers who are eligible for Social Security have been waiting to file, often substantially increasing their lifetime annual benefits.

    But the stunning job losses in the pandemic-induced economic crisis could bring this trend to a crashing halt, as suddenly unemployed older workers without substantial savings scramble to meet living expenses.

    At a time when fewer retired households can rely on traditional pensions and only about half own retirement accounts, Social Security is the most important benefit for most Americans. Even in good times, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to timing a claim your longevity, savings and any other pension income are important factors.

    Now the decision is complicated by the highly uncertain outlook for the economy, jobs and financial markets. But even if you need Social Security income immediately, you may have options worth considering that can boost lifetime benefits.

    Lets review the pros and cons of different strategies for claiming benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

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    I Need Income Now Why Wait To Claim Social Security

    Your claiming age matters a great deal. You can file as early as 62, but your annual benefit will be higher for every year you wait, until 70.

    Social Security uses an actuarial formula tied to your full retirement age the point at which you can claim 100 percent of the benefit youve earned over the course of your working life. For example, if you turn 62 this year, your full retirement age is 66 and 8 months.

    If you file before your full age, your benefit will be reduced as much as 6.7 percent annually, depending on when you claim. The bite is bigger than in the past because of changes enacted in 1983, when a gradual increase in the full retirement age from 65 to 67 was set in motion. Those increases, which still are being phased in, effectively set the bar higher for claiming a full benefit.

    Filing at 62 this year means youll receive 72 percent of your full benefit, noted Richard W. Johnson, director of the program on retirement policy at the Urban Institute, compared with 80 percent for someone who was born in 1937 or earlier and retired at that age .

    That lower income can really sting when you reach your 80s and out-of-pocket medical expenses and spending on home and residential care often surge, Mr. Johnson said.

    Even a delay of a year or two past the full age can meaningfully increase benefits and mitigate your risk of falling short of income in retirement.

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