What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.
Who Is Eligible To Collect Social Security Retirement Benefits
Workers who are at least age 62 and who have worked at least 10 combined years at jobs for which they paid Social Security taxes are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. In many cases, spouses, widows and divorcees are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits based on a spouses or ex-spouses earnings history. Unmarried children 18 and younger can also get survivors benefits. You must be a U.S. citizen or lawful alien to collect benefits.
Social Security Income Limit 2021
Note: The Social Security earnings limit changes each year. The most current version of this article uses numbers for 2021.
At one of my first speaking engagements, I heard a great story from one of the attendees. Her experience provides us with one of the best examples Ive ever heard of how much the Social Security income limit can catch you by surprise.
A few years earlier, shed been at her bridge club when the topic turned to Social Security. As she and the other card players chatted about the best way to leverage Social Security Benefits, the consensus around the table seemed to be that filing at 62 was the smartest thing to do.
This lady, trusting the advice of some of her closest friends, did just that: She filed for benefits as soon as she turned 62.
She then told me shed always wanted to buy a brand-new Toyota Camry. She figured that, once she started receiving Social Security income, it would be the perfect time to buy the car. She was still working, which meant her Social Security check would be extra income.
As she told the story to me, she bought the car and took out a car loan to do it. She planned to repay the loan using some of the income she expected to receive from her Social Security benefits since she filed for them.
Imagine her surprise, then, when a nasty letter from Social Security Administration showed up in her mailbox. The letter claimed she had been paid benefits that she was not eligible for!
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How Is My Social Security Benefit Amount Calculated
Another common Social Security benefits question is how payments are calculated based on your lifetime earnings. To account for changes in average wages each year, the Social Security Administration , indexes your income using the national average wage index.
The SSA calculates your average indexed monthly earnings based on the 35 years in which you earned the most. A formula generates your basic benefits, otherwise known as your primary insurance amount. This primary insurance amount is what you would receive at your full retirement age. If you were born between 1955 and 1959, full retirement age is between age 66 and 67. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.5
How Does Working After Retirement Affect Your Benefits
Working after retirement is becoming more and more common. The average recipient of Social Security retirement benefits is only receiving $1,543 per month. One can quickly see why it often becomes necessary to continue working even when receiving benefits. Some people might continue to work their normal job when they choose to start receiving benefits. Others might decide to return to work at a part-time job. So, how does working affect the benefits that you will receive?
The main thing to understand here is that your benefits can be affected by earning additional income, particularly if you have not reached full retirement age. Those who choose to start their benefits early might not receive their full benefits if they are still working. In 2021, the Social Security earnings limit is $18,960 to still receive full benefits. This means that if you earn more than this amount from another source like a part-time job, then your benefits will be reduced. Your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 that you earn above the limit.
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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.
Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby
The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.
Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:
- Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
- Open a bank account in their name
- Get medical coverage for them
- Apply for government services for them
Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft.
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Income Limits For Social Security Retirement Benefits
Many people ask, How much can you earn in 2021 and draw Social Security? The annual limit for 2021 is $18,960 for those who have not reached full retirement age. So, suppose that you begin receiving benefit payments at age 62. This special rule states that you can have no more than $18,960 in annual earnings or else your benefits will be reduced. Keep in mind that the earnings limit only applies to money earned from work. It does not include earnings from investments like an IRA or capital gains. However, if a spouse or child receives benefits based on your work record, their benefits will be reduced as a result of your earnings as well.
If you claim benefits and have been working for the entire year, then it might be a good idea to check out the SSAs earnings test calculator. You should know that it is your responsibility to notify the Social Security Administration of your earnings. Failure to notify SSA might mean that your benefits do not get appropriately reduced, especially in your first year of working. You might continue receiving your full monthly checks, and then you will be forced to repay those extra benefits when you file your income taxes. You might even owe some additional fines and penalties as well. Be sure that you are aware of these rules when it comes to allowable monthly income so that you do not find yourself in this situation.
Investigate Divorced Spouse Benefits
If youre currently unmarried but a previous marriage lasted at least 10 years, you could qualify for spousal benefits based on your exs work record. The amount can be up to 50% of the workers benefit at his or her full retirement age. If you remarry, however, the divorced spouse benefit stops. You must be at least 62 to get spousal benefits.
If your ex has died and the marriage lasted at least 10 years, you could qualify for survivor benefits of up to 100% of your exs benefit. You can remarry at 60 or older and still receive divorced survivor benefits. Survivor and divorced survivor benefits can begin at age 60, or at age 50 if the survivor is disabled, or at any age if youre caring for your exs child who is under 16 or disabled . People receiving survivor benefits can switch to their own benefit later if thats larger, and vice versa.
Pro tip: Your ex must be at least 62 for you to receive a divorced spousal benefit, but does not need to be receiving his or her own benefit. Survivor benefits are based on what your ex was receiving or would have received at full retirement age. If you start benefits before your own full retirement age, however, the amount you get will be reduced.
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The Impact Of Roth Iras
If youre concerned about your income tax burden in retirement, consider saving in a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you save after-tax dollars. Because you pay taxes on the money before contributing it to your Roth IRA, you will not pay any taxes when you withdraw your contributions. You also do not have to withdraw the funds on any specific schedule after you retire. This differs from traditional IRAs and 401 plans, which require you to begin withdrawing money once you reach 72 years old, or 70.5 if you were born before July 1, 1949.
So, when you calculate your combined income for Social Security tax purposes, your withdrawals from a Roth IRA wont count as part of that income. That could make a Roth IRA a great way to increase your retirement income without increasing your taxes in retirement.
Another thing to note is that many retirement plans allow individuals, aged 50 years or older, to make annual catch-up contributions. For 2021, you can make catch-up contributions up to $1,000. These must be made by the due date of your tax return. You have until April 15, 2022 to make the $1,000 catch-up contribution apply to your 2021 Roth IRA contribution total.
Average Social Security Payment By Age
The average Social Security retirement benefit is significantly lower than the maximum. It was $1,563.82 per month in November 2021, according to the most recent data available from the Social Security Administration. Here’s what the average benefit looks like at different ages for those who started collecting at full retirement age, according to an annual report published by the SSA in 2021.
|Average Social Security Benefit by Age|
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Are Social Security Benefits Taxable
If you have a lot of income from other sources, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable income. If the combination of your Social Security benefits and other income is below $25,000, your benefits wonât be taxed at all. The amount of your benefits that is subject to taxes is calculated on a sliding scale based on your income. Money that Social Security recipients pay in income taxes on their benefits goes back into funding Social Security and Medicare.
If your retirement income is high enough that your benefits are taxable, how do you pay those benefits? You can ask Social Security for an IRS Voluntary Withholding Request Form if youâd like the government to withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits. Otherwise, youâre expected to file quarterly tax returns to pay these taxes over the course of the year.
That covers federal income taxes. What about state income taxes? That depends. In 13 states, your Social Security benefits will be taxed as income, either in whole or in part the remaining states do not tax Social Security income.
Why We Have An Earnings Limit
Not long ago, a viewer on my YouTube channel asked me to give her a good reason why we have the Social Security earnings limit. The comments that followed showed how many viewers shared the belief that the earnings limit is unfair and should be eliminated.
In my response, I explained that the rationale behind the entire program of Social Security was to create a safety net. The original intent of the Social security program was not to supplement retirement income, but to keep the elderly out of poverty.
I also added that todays earnings limit is relatively generous compared to where the Social Security earnings limit began. The original Economic Security Bill President Roosevelt sent to Congress featured a very restrictive earnings limit.
That bill stated, No person shall receive such old-age annuity unless . . . He is not employed by another in a gainful occupation.
Whoa! This means that if you had even a single dollar in wages from a job, you could not collect a Social Security benefit at all.
Thankfully, the system we have in place today allows for individuals to have some earnings from work while they are receiving a Social Security benefit.
However, its very important to stay informed on the dollar amount of this limit because it changes every year.
For 2020, the limit is $18,240. For every $2 you exceed that limit, $1 will be withheld in benefits.
Again, once you reach full retirement age, there is no reduction in benefits regardless of your income level.
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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.
How Are Ssi Benefits Calculated
The SSA takes a different approach when calculating SSI benefits. To calculate your SSI benefit rate, the SSA deducts your countable earned and unearned income from the maximum SSI benefit amount. The maximum SSI benefit rate in 2020 is $783 per month for individuals and $1,175 per month for couples.
The SSA defines earned income as money that is earned as a result of performing some type of work. On the other hand, unearned income is money that you receive without performing work, such as child support, veterans benefits, and other government benefits.
All earned and unearned income is not considered countable. There are certain exclusions that you must apply when calculating your countable earned and countable unearned income. Some examples of earned income exclusions include:
- The first $65 of earned income per month.
- Work expenses incurred as a result of your disability
- The first $30 of irregularly or infrequently earned income
Some examples of unearned income exclusions include:
- Benefits received from a state or local authority.
- Income that is set aside so you can use it to implement a plan that will help you become fully financially independent.
- The first $20 of unearned income per month.
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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.
Heres How Working After 62 Can Change Your Social Security Benefits
Continuing to work after age 62 can affect your level of Social Security retirement benefits, whether you are receiving benefits at the time or not. Knowing how continuing to work might change benefit levels can lead to better decisions about when to claim benefits and whether to continue working.
You can begin claiming Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, whether you are working or not. You know that the level of benefits increases for each year you wait to claim them through age 70. Theres no benefit for delaying claiming past age 70. In addition, the level of benefits might increase if you continue working after 62, whether you claim benefits at 62 or later.
Social Security retirement benefits are calculated using your 35 highest-earning years. If you dont have 35 years of earnings, youll be assigned an income of $0 for each of the missing years. After you turn 62, Social Security recalculates your benefits every year that you dont claim benefits. It will take your earnings for the latest year, add that to your record of lifetime earnings and select the 35 years with the highest inflation-adjusted earnings. Those are the only details of how benefits are calculated you need for this discussion.
When claim Social Security retirement benefits and continue to work, the effects are more complicated.
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Earnings Limit For Social Security Disability Benefits
So far we have been mainly focused on income limits for those on Social Security retirement benefits. Many people on Supplemental Security Income and SSDI wonder how work affects your benefits as well. In fact, they often ask, How much can I earn while on Social Security Disability in 2021? When it comes to SSI and SSDI, the rules are a little different. Receiving SSDI or SSI benefits means that a person has been found to be disabled and unable to perform substantial gainful activity. This essentially means that they are unable to perform any type of full-time work and thus earn an income. For those qualifying for SSDI or SSI benefits, an earner can make no more than $1,310 per month. Any income above this amount, even from self-employment, will make them ineligible to receive SSI or SSDI benefits.
Remember that those receiving SSI or SSDI might have to worry about Social Security taxes on their Social Security earnings as well. Since the income limits and average benefits are lower, most people receiving disability benefits will not be required to pay any taxes on their benefits. Remember that the Social Security tax limits are adjusted almost every year too, so make sure that you are aware of the current rules. Recipients of SSI and SSDI are also automatically enrolled in Medicare after a certain period of time.