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.
Survivor And Death Benefits
Wage earners depend on Social Security retirement benefits to help meet financial needs when they stop working, but sometimes these earners can pass away early and unexpectedly. When workers pay into Social Security, a majority goes to fund disability and retirement costs, but a portion of their taxes go toward survivors benefits as well.
When a worker passes away, some family members may be eligible for survivors benefits if the worker earned enough credits during their working lifetime. Eligible family members include widowed spouses who are 60 or older, 50 or older if they are disabled, or any age if caring for a child who is under 16 years old. Children of deceased workers are also eligible if they are not married and under 18 years old, or under 19 years old but still in school. If youre divorced and you or your spouse pass away, the surviving spouse could be eligible for a widows benefit as well.
If a worker has enough work credits when they pass away, Social Security will also make a one-time payment of $255. This payment can be made only if the spouse or child meet certain specified requirements.
To apply for survivors benefits, Social Security will need the following, either original copies or certified copies, from the issuing agency.
Who Is Eligible To Collect Social Security Benefits
The specific eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits vary depending on the type of benefits, the age of the person filing the claim and, if you are claiming as a dependent or survivor, the age of the worker.
There is one general requirement, however, that applies to all Social Security programs except for SSI : The worker on whose earnings record the benefit is to be paid must have worked in “covered employment” for a sufficient number of years. This means that the worker must have earned enough of what Social Security calls “work credits” by the time he or she claims retirement benefits, becomes disabled, or dies .
For Social Security retirement benefits, you must be between the ages of 62 and 70 to start collecting benefits.
To check on your eligibility, see Nolo’s article Checking you Social Security Earnings and Benefits or call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.
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Surprise Stimulus Checks Are Being Sent Out
Not only does low-income impact you now when it comes to daily expenditures but it will also impact you later in your life.
Some may not realize that how much you earn from Social Security checks depends in part on your income history.
So, try to find a better-paying job if you can.
Plus, multiple states are increasing their minimum wage.
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What Are Social Security Retirement Benefits
American workers pay Social Security taxes on their income. If they have paid enough into the system by the time they retire, they are eligible to receive benefits. In April 2021, the average retired beneficiary received a monthly payout of $1,552.12. In 2021, if the beneficiary is below the full retirement age, for any income above $18,960 they’ll $1 in Social Security withheld for every $2 they earn.
Social Security should be just one component of your plan to fund retirement. On average, beneficiaries only receive about 40% of their working income from Social Security.
Although workers can claim benefits before they reach full retirement age, as early as 62, experts say this is not advisable as it will result in permanently lower benefits.
“When you take benefits, it can significantly affect your overall retirement income. With pensions a thing of the past for most workers, Social Security remains the largest source of guaranteed lifetime retirement income,” says Stephanie Genkin, CFP®, founder of My Financial Planner, LLC in New York City. “Once you start collecting Social Security, the benefit amountplus cost-of-living adjustments will be locked in for the remainder of your life.”
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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Social Security Survivor Benefits
Social Security benefits may be available if you are the survivor–that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. The deceased must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.
Your survivor benefits are based on the earnings of the person who died. The amount you get is based on your age and the type of benefits you are able to receive each month you receive a percentage of the deceaseds basic Social Security benefits. The maximum survivors benefit you can get is limited to what the deceased would have received in life. Click here for additional details and examples.
No : Start Collecting Early At 62
If you live an average lifespan, though, you won’t come out ahead much by delaying, because you’ll get fewer checks, in total, than those who started earlier with smaller checks. If you live much longer than average, though, waiting will have been worth it. But if you have reason to believe you will live a shorter-than-average life, or you simply need the money, go ahead and start collecting early. For most people, that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
No : Delay Starting To Collect Your Benefits
Another way to increase your Social Security benefits is to delay starting to collect them. You can start as early as age 62 and delay up to age 70. Each of us has a “full” retirement age , and for every year beyond that that you delay, your benefits will grow by about 8%. Delay from age 67 to 70 and you’ll get benefits 24% bigger. The table below shows the effect of starting to collect early or late. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start collecting benefits at 64, your checks will be 80% of what they would have been had you started collecting at 67.
The Mistake: Ignoring Work Rules For Early Benefits
If you plan to continue working after you start collecting Social Security benefits, you could find yourself coming up short financially.
In the years before you reach full retirement age, your Social Security benefit is reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over the annual limit. In 2019, the yearly limit for earners younger than full retirement age is $17,640.
In the year you reach full retirement age, your Social Security benefit is reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn over the annual limit. For 2019, the yearly limit for these earners is $46,920.
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What If I Delay Taking My Benefits
If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit . For example, say you were born in 1951 and your full retirement age is 66. If you started your benefits at age 68, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by two . This makes your benefit 16% higher than the amount you would have received at age 66. .
That higher baseline lasts for the rest of your retirement, and serves as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While its important to consider your personal circumstancesits not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or cant afford to delaythe benefits of waiting can be significant.
If you decide to wait past age 65, you may still need to sign up for Medicare. In some circumstancesyour Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more if you do not sign up at age 65.
To review your situation, your annual Social Security statement will list your projected benefits at age 62, full retirement age, and age 70, assuming you continue to work and earn about the same amount until age 62, full retirement age, or age 70 before retiring. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one from the Social Security Administration .
How Much Money Will I Get From Social Security In 2022
Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 5.9% increase in benefits in 2022, the biggest increase since 1982.
Most retired workers will see an increase of $92 per month, bringing the average benefit among retirees to amount to $1,657 a month.
The Social Security Administration will be distributing letters to beneficiaries explaining how much of an increase they will get, but for those interested in finding out sooner, you can do some simple calculations to find out how much your payments will change.
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Theres A Social Security Spousal Benefit
Marriage brings couples an advantage when it comes to Social Security. Namely, one spouse can take what’s called a spousal benefit, worth up to 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit. Put simply, if your monthly Social Security benefit is worth $2,000 but your spouse’s own benefit is only worth $500, your spouse can collect a spousal benefit worth $1,000 — bringing in $500 more in income per month. Just as the benefit based on your own work history is reduced if you claim it early, the same is true for a spousal benefit. That 50% figure is the maximum amount that only a spouse who is at least full retirement age is eligible for. Taking the spousal benefit early at, say, age 62, reduces the amount to as little as 32.5% of the higher earners benefit. If you take your own benefit early and then later switch to a spousal benefit, your spousal benefit will still be reduced.
What To Do: Do The Math Before Retiring
As you’re approaching retirement, check your earnings statement first to make sure you have enough credits to qualify for Social Security. If you don’t already have 35 years of earnings, consider whether working an additional year or two could help boost your Social Security benefits.
For example, if you worked a first career where you weren’t covered by Social Security, working for an extra year or two might ensure you qualify for Social Security benefits or boost your monthly benefit amount.
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Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Supplemental Security Income helps people who are unable to earn sufficient wages on their own. It is available to adults with disabilities, children with disabilities and people 65 or older. Individuals with enough work history may be eligible to receive SSI in addition to disability or retirement benefits. The amount individuals receive varies based on their other sources of income and where they live.
How Do You Apply For Benefits
When you are ready to apply for Social Security benefits, you can apply in a number of ways. For individuals living in the United States, applications can be taken over the phone, online or by visiting a local Social Security office.
Individuals who do not reside within the United States or any of its territories must contact the nearest U.S. Social Security office, Embassy or consulate.
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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.
Are There Drawbacks To Collecting Early Retirement
It is recommended that any individual who is able to delay collecting Social Security until their retirement age do so. When you begin collecting early retirement your benefit check will be less than if you had waited until your retirement year.
When considering what age to begin benefits it is very important to look at your own financial situation and needs to better determine if retiring early is an option that should be considered.
When it comes to Social Security retirement benefits, there are rarely questions that have a simple one size fits all answer. There are many factors that go into how much money you are entitled to, how much money you will receive and when.
You must also consider other sources of income and how that might affect your financial situation throughout retirement. One thing is certain for all individuals retirement planning is very important to ensure maximum benefits and protection of assets which you will rely on for the remaining years.
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Social Security Mistakes That Can Cost You A Fortune
Whether you’re counting on Social Security to fund most of your retirement income or supplement it, you want to make sure you get all of the money you’re entitled to. However, with so many ways to claim benefits — especially if you’re married or used to be married — small mistakes could end up costing you a lot of money over the rest of your life.
Paying Taxes On Your Retirement Benefits
Social Security retirement benefit recipients must pay Federal income taxes on their benefits. Due to personal income levels, about one-third of recipients actually have to pay some amount annually.
Each year, the Social Security Administration will mail recipients a Form SSA-1099 that shows the amount of benefits received during the preceding year. This form should be used to complete tax returns and help determine in any taxes are owed.
As a general rule, if you file as an individual and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is more than $34,000 you may be required to pay taxes on up to 85 percent of your benefits.
If you file a joint return and you and your spouses income is between $32,000 and $44,000, then 50 percent of your benefits may be taxed. If your combined income is about $44,000, then up to 85 percent of your benefits may be subject to income tax.
To assist with tax planning, Social Security can withhold Federal taxes throughout the year for benefit recipients which may be preferable to making quarterly estimated tax payments.
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