When Will You Collect
The SSA calculates your benefit amount at your full retirement age . This depends on the year you were born. FRA by birth year is:
- 19431954: age 66
- 1955: age 66 and two months
- 1956: age 66 and four months
- 1957: age 66 and six months
- 1958: age 66 and eight months
- 1959: age 66 and 10 months
- 1960 and later: age 67
The monthly amount you are eligible to receive at your FRA is considered your full benefit, but it is not your minimum or maximum benefit.
You have the option to file for early retirement as early as age 62. But, you may choose to delay taking your benefits until as late as age 70.
There are many reasons why you might choose to take early retirement or to delay it. That choice has a direct impact on the amount of your monthly payment. If you opt for early retirement, you are choosing a lower monthly payment for the rest of your life. By choosing to delay your benefit to any age between your FRA and age 70, you lock in an increase.
Baby Boomers: On Target
Social Security benefit estimates for those born 1946 through 1964 should be on target and will be unlikely to be reduced if Congress fails to put a solution in place to shore up the reserve account within the overall trust fund, or fails to increase payroll taxes to support the commitments made to these retirees, says Mantell.
Elsasser agrees but suggest taking some precautionary measures. Baby boomers should plan for benefits as they are projected, but stress test for a benefit cut, he says. Historically benefit cuts have been phased in over time.
For instance, the last solvency crisis of this magnitude occurred in 1983. And some of the reforms that were put in place are still being phased in today, such as the increase in full retirement age from 65 to 67, Elsasser notes.
According to Elsasser, stress testing allows you to practice what you would change in your plan if the full cut materializes. If the cuts to your plan are too painful to bear if they do materialize, then make smaller changes now and monitor the situation, he says. Smaller cuts to your lifestyle sooner will hurt less than larger ones later.
Covisum has a benefit cut calculator that allows consumers to identify how benefit cuts would impact their break-even ages.
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How The Earnings Limit Is Applied
The most confusing part of the benefit reduction due to income is how its reflected in your monthly benefits deposits. Instead of taking out a little bit every month, the SSA will withhold several months of benefits at a time.
If you predict in advance that you will have excess earnings and report this to the Social Security Administration, they may take a few months of benefits before you actually earn the anticipated excess earnings.
For example, if your Social Security payment is $1,667 per month, and you expect to receive $28,960 in wages from your job, the Administration would calculate that youll be over your earnings limit by $10,000 and thus $5,000 in benefits should be withheld. So, they would withhold your benefit payment from January to March. In April, your checks would resume.
If you dont report excess income before you earn it, then you have to report this information after the fact. You can do this when you file your income tax return, but the preferred method is to be proactive and call your local Social Security Administration office.
If you wait for the Social Security Administration to learn of your excess earnings via your tax return, there could be a significant gap between the time you earn the excess income and the time that they withhold your benefits. In most cases, its better to report the excess earnings quickly so the benefits reduction occurs closer to the time you actually earn that extra income.
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How To Calculate Your Social Security Benefit
Calculating your estimated Social Security benefit is no easy task. Your best bet may be to request a Social Security benefits estimate from the SSA. This will contain an estimate of your benefit at age 62, at your FRA, and at age 70, based on your current work history.
In addition to these estimates, the SSA also has a series of Social Security benefits calculators that can help you plan for retirement. You can also use this calculator from AARP to estimate the best age to start claiming your benefits.
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
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Common Questions About Social Security
Thomas J. Catalano is a CFP and Registered Investment Adviser with the state of South Carolina. He is a CFP, registered investment advisor, and he owns his own financial advisory firm. Thomas’ experience gives him expertise in a variety of areas including investments, retirement, insurance, and financial planning.
Who Is Eligible For Social Security Benefits
Anyone who pays into Social Security for at least 40 calendar quarters is eligible for retirement benefits based on their earnings record. You are eligible for your full benefits once you reach full retirement age, which is either 66 and 67, depending on when you were born. But if you claim later than that – you can put it off as late as age 70 – youâll get a credit for doing so, with larger monthly benefits. Conversely, you can claim as early as age 62, but taking benefits before your full retirement age will result in the Social Security Administration docking your monthly benefits.
The bottom line: Youâre eligible for Social Security Benefits if youâve paid into the system for at least a decade, but your actual benefits will depend on what age â between 62 and 70 â you begin to claim them.
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How Can It Ruin Retirement
The Social Security offset and similar programs can ruin your retirement in a couple of ways. Luckily, understanding how it can ruin your retirement can help you plan ahead while you’re still working.
The biggest way that Social Security offset can ruin your retirement is that it can lower your income.
If you expect to make a certain amount and don’t account for the offset, you might be in for a rude awakening.
You might plan your lifestyle based on what you expect to make. Not receiving that in Social Security can affect everything from your housing budget to the amount you can spend on food or travel.
A law firm can help you understand the regulations, and they can help you determine whether you could face offset or not and what to do if you receive a notice of an offset.
Then, you can plan for an offset and how to fight it.
Your Social Security Benefits Will Be Taxed
Most people know that you pay tax into the Social Security Trust Fund throughout your career, but did you know that you may also have to pay tax on your Social Security benefits once you start receiving them? Benefits lost their tax-free status in 1984, and the income thresholds for triggering tax on benefits haven’t been increased since then.
As a result, it doesn’t take a lot of income for your Social Security benefits to be pinched by Uncle Sam. For example, a married couple with a combined income of more than $32,000 may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits. Higher earners may have to pay income tax on up to 85% of their benefits.
You may also have to pay state income taxes on your Social Security benefits. See our list of the 13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits.
Can I Use The Calculator To Figure Out Social Security Disability Insurance And Supplemental Security Income
No. SSDI is aimed at people who cant work because they have a medical condition expected to last a year or more or result in death. Your SSDI benefits last only as long as you suffer from a significant medical impairment while not earning significant other income.
SSI is a separate program for people with little or no income or assets who are 65 or older, as well as for those of any age, including children, who are blind or who have disabilities. The maximum monthly SSI payment for 2021 is $794 for a single person and $1,191 for a couple. But some states add to that payment, and you may receive less than the maximum if you or your family has other income. Get more information about SSDI and SSI from the Social Security Administration.
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Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries
You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.
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Special Monthly Income Limit Rule For The First Year
Many people who retire mid-year have already earned more income than the limit allows. This is why there is a special rule where the earnings limit switches from an annual limit to a monthly limit.
This rule allows you to receive a check for any month you are considered retired by the SSA even if you have already exceeded the annual earnings limit.
That sounds straightforward enough but the interpretation of retired as defined by the SSA can cause some confusion. Heres what they mean by this term:
You are retired if your monthly earnings are 1/12 of the annual limit or less and you did not perform substantial services in self-employment.
Essentially, you are considered retired unless you make more than the income limit. The rule for the year you reach full retirement age also applies when working with the monthly limit. In this calendar year for 2021, the limit is $4,210 .
Its very important to remember that in the year following this first year, the monthly limit is no longer used and the earnings limit is based solely on your annual earnings limit.
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 .
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Is Social Security In Trouble
Its safe to say that the Social Security system faces some financial challenges. The ratio of current workers-to-retirees is declining, meaning fewer workers are paying into the system for every retiree who is drawing money out of it. In addition, people are living longer than when the program was envisioned in the 1930s, so theyre collecting benefits for more years.
According to Social Security Administration trustees, the retirement programs costs are expected to exceed its income for the first time in 2021. Under current projections, the program should be able to pay full benefits until 2033, when the trust fund will be depleted. After this, the fund’s reserves will be depleted and 76% of scheduled benefits will be able to be paid with continuing tax income.
Given the programs popularity and importance to millions of Americansand the millions of older Americans who have already paid into it for decadesits extremely unlikely that Congress would simply let it fail.
How Inflation Impacts Your Pia
Your PIA is calculated at age 62. If you wait beyond age 62, cost-of-living adjustments will be applied to your PIA for each year afterward.
If you have already had most of your 35 years of earnings, and you are near age 62 today, the age 70 benefit amount you see on your Social Security statement will likely be higher due to these cos- of-living adjustments. Many people do not account for this when doing their own calculations, which can lead them to think that taking Social Security early is a better deal, when waiting is often the better deal.
In the table below, our hypothetical worker, born in 1954, is eligible for full retirement at age 66. The column on the right shows the effect of inflation for waiting beyond age 62 to take their benefits.
|Effect of Age on Claiming Benefits|
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How Are Social Security Spousal Benefits Calculated
To understand Social Security benefit calculations, you first need to understand one piece of jargon: primary insurance amount . A persons primary insurance amount is the amount of their monthly retirement benefit, if they file for that benefit exactly at their full retirement age.
A Social Security spousal benefit is calculated as 50% of the other spouses PIA. Note that the age at which the other spouse files for Social Security benefits doesnt affect this calculation.
Example: Jane files for her retirement benefit at age 63 and is therefore receiving a retirement benefit that is smaller than her PIA. Janes husband Bob files for a benefit as Janes spouse. Bobs spousal benefit will initially be calculated as 50% of Janes PIA.
If Jane had filed for retirement benefits after her full retirement age , Bobs benefit as Janes spouse would still be calculated as 50% of Janes PIA. Again, the age at which Jane files for retirement benefits does not affect the amount that Bob can receive as Janes spouse.
How Do I Apply For Benefits
You can apply at a local Social Security office, by phone , or online. Youll need to provide certain information and possibly some documents, such as a birth certificate. Social Security Form SSA-1 has a complete list.
The Social Security Administration says you can apply up to four months before the date you want your benefits to start.
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Ssi Federal Payment Amounts For 2021
Maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income payment amounts increase with the cost-of-living increases that apply to Social Security benefits. The latest such increase, 1.3 percent, becomes effective January 2021.
SSI amounts for 2021 The monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2021 are $794 for an eligible individual, $1,191 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $397 for an essential person.
In general, monthly amounts for the next year are determined by increasing theunrounded annual amounts for the current year by the COLA effective for January of the next year. The new unrounded amounts are then each divided by 12 and the resulting amounts are rounded down to the next lower multiple of $1.