Simplifying Your Social Security Taxes
During your working years, your employer probably withheld payroll taxes from your paycheck. If you make enough in retirement that you need to pay federal income tax, then you will also need to withhold taxes from your monthly income.
To withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits, you will need to fill out Form W-4V . The form only has only seven lines. You will need to enter your personal information and then choose how much to withhold from your benefits. The only withholding options are 7%, 10%, 12% or 22% of your monthly benefit. After you fill out the form, mail it to your closest Social Security Administration office or drop it off in person.
If you prefer to pay more exact withholding payments, you can choose to file estimated tax payments instead of having the SSA withhold taxes. Estimated payments are tax payments that you make each quarter on income that an employer is not required to withhold tax from. So if you ever earned income from self-employment, you may already be familiar with estimated payments.
In general, its easier for retirees to have the SSA withhold taxes. Estimated taxes are a bit more complicated and will simply require you to do more work throughout the year. However, you should make the decision based on your personal situation. At any time you can also switch strategies by asking the the SSA to stop withholding taxes.
When Will I Receive My First Payment
Social Security retirement benefits, as well as disability and survivor benefits, are paid in the month after the month the payment represents. For example, you can expect your first direct deposit to occur in June according to the day-of-birth schedule if your first month of receiving benefits is May.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance, often shortened to SSDI, is a government program that provides benefits to individuals who cannot work due to disabilities. For many receiving SSDI benefits, this is their only source of income, so wage garnishment due to unpaid debts can be devastating.
Fortunately, disability benefits are protected from garnishment for most kinds of private debts like:
- Medical bills
- Mortgage lenders
Although these entities can receive court orders for garnishment of work paychecks or other forms of income, they cannot touch income from social security benefits. Social security benefits are also protected even if you are sued in a lawsuit, and the court enters a judgment against you.
Other benefits that are also protected from garnishment, much like SSDI, include:
- Supplemental Social Security Income
- Civil service retirement
- Federal Railroad Retirement, unemployment, and sick benefits
These benefits are mostly protected from private debt collection however, they are still vulnerable to collection by the federal government.
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How To Calculate Social Security Benefits In Excel
If you are in your late 50s and approaching retirement, you can create a useful model of your future benefits. It works best to do this in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, as follows:
- Using a recent Social Security statement, list in spreadsheet column A your taxable Social Security earnings year by year.
- List in column B the most recently published NAWI adjustment factors as published by the SSA.
- Multiply columns A and B and output the result to column C.
- Identify in column D the 35 highest values in column C. Add these together and divide the sum by 420 . This will approximate your AIME.
- Use the most recently published bend points to convert your AIME into a PIA.
You also can fill in hypothetical values for estimated taxable Social Security earnings in future years until you plan to stop working. To be conservative, use a NAWI adjustment factor of 1.0000 in column B for all future years.
A financial advisor who fully understands this process can help verify your calculations, advise you on when to start Social Security benefits, and estimate the future benefits you can expect to receive.
Accept Terms Of Service
Next, once you have successfully entered the code that was sent to you, you will be taken to a page like the one below.
There, you will have to accept the Social Security online Terms of Service to proceed.
Read through the terms of service, then check the box that says I Agree to the Terms of Service., then click Next.
Additional Protections For Ssdi Recipients
If you are concerned about garnishment of social security disability benefits, rest assured that there are options to protect your disability benefits from wage garnishment. Depending on where you live and collect benefits, the laws concerning social security garnishing wages vary.
If you have questions about social security disability garnishment and believe that your SSDI benefits are being unfairly garnished, it is recommended that you contact a knowledgeable attorney in your area.
What If You Live Abroad
Most U.S. citizens who live in foreign countries after they retire can receive Social Security benefits. However, the U.S. government will not send Social Security payments to those living in Cuba or North Korea. Additionally, Americans living in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan must qualify for an exception in order to receive benefits while living abroad.
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You Need To Pay Down Debt
There are some debts you need to tackle before you retire. If you have high-interest debt, claiming Social Security early can help you pay the debt down. Depending on the interest rate you’re paying, the 8% yearly boost to your benefits that you receive for each year you wait past full retirement age might not be worth the increased monthly benefit. Using the early benefits to reduce or eliminate your debt earlier could mean you’ll be able to keep more of your benefits in the future.
Check The Social Security Administration’s Math
Your statement includes a record of the earnings on which you’ve paid taxes and an estimate of the benefits you will receive at various retirement ages: 62, 67, and 70. It is always wise for you to check the SSA’s numbers. Don’t be surprised if you uncover an error. Some government-watchers estimate that the SSA makes mistakes on at least 3% of the total official earnings records it keeps.
When you check your record, make sure that the Social Security number noted on your earnings statement is your own, and make sure the earned income amounts listed on the agency’s records mesh with your own records of earnings as listed on your income tax forms or pay stubs.
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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.
Consult With A Social Security Disability Attorney
It is imperative that you consult with an experienced social security disability attorney if you believe that your social security income may be garnished. If your benefits are being garnished in error, the Social Security Administration cannot help you, but a knowledgeable attorney like those at Moshes Law, P.C. can.
An SSDI attorney will be familiar with your state laws and which of your unpaid debts are putting your social security benefits at risk. If a debt collector threatens to take your social security benefits, they could be guilty of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Donât hesitate to contact Moshes Law, P.C. today to set up a free consultation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Yuriy Moshes, P.C., are ready to help you protect your social security benefits from garnishment.
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Fact #: Social Security Is Particularly Important For People Of Color
Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including Black and Latino workers and their families, who face higher poverty rates both during their working lives and in old age. The poverty rate among Black and Latino seniors is over 2.5 times as high as for white seniors. There is a significant racial retirement wealth gap, leading seniors of color to face more retirement insecurity than white seniors. African American and Latino workers are less likely to be offered workplace retirement plans and likelier to work in low-wage jobs with little margin for savings. Social Security helps reduce the economic disparities between white seniors and seniors of color.
What Does It Take To Qualify For Social Security Spousal Benefits
Unlike most rules related to Social Security, the rules for the spousal benefit entitlement are pretty straightforward and easy to understand.
If youve been married to your current spouse for at least one year, youre eligible for a spousal benefit under their work record.
Pretty simple, right?
You may also qualify for the spousal benefit If youre divorced but the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and youre not currently married.
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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, where he launched his own financial advisory firm in 2018. Thomas’ experience gives him expertise in a variety of areas including investments, retirement, insurance, and financial planning.
You’re Only Working Part Time
If you claim Social Security prior to your full retirement age while still holding down a part-time job, you might have your benefits reduced if your work income exceeds the annual limit. For 2021, if you are under full retirement age, your benefits go down by $1 for every $2 your income exceeds $18,960. If you reach full retirement age in 2021, your benefits go down by $1 for every $3 your income exceeds $50,520 prior to reaching full retirement age. If you’re working part-time to help make ends meet, taking Social Security at 62 might make sense.
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Calculating Your Social Security Income Tax
If your Social Security income is taxable, the amount you pay in tax will depend on your total combined retirement income. However, you will never pay taxes on more than 85% of your Social Security income. If you file as an individual with a total income thats less than $25,000, you wont have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits in 2021, according to the Social Security Administration.
For the 2021 tax year, single filers with a combined income of $25,000 to $34,000 must pay income taxes on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits. If your combined income was more than $34,000, you will pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.
For married couples filing jointly, you will pay taxes on up to 50% of your Social Security income if you have a combined income of $32,000 to $44,000. If you have a combined income of more than $44,000, you can expect to pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.
If 50% of your benefits are subject to tax, the exact amount you include in your taxable income will be the lesser of either a) half of your annual Social Security benefits or b) half of the difference between your combined income and the IRS base amount.
The example above is for someone who is paying taxes on 50% of his or her Social Security benefits. Things get more complicated if youre paying taxes on 85% of your benefits. However, the IRS helps taxpayers by offering software and a worksheet to calculate Social Security tax liability.
You Can’t Work Anymore
Even the best retirement financial plans and projections can go awry. For example, you might have planned on working until you’re 70 so you could maximize your retirement benefits. If you get laid off at 62, however, and have difficulty finding another job, you might need to start taking your benefits just to get by.
Additionally, continuing to work in your industry simply might not be possible or healthy for you later in life. If your job requires manual labor, you might decide the risk of injury or other damage to your health isn’t worth continuing to work. In this case, the healthier lifestyle you’ll get by retiring early could outweigh the smaller monthly Social Security benefit.
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Primary Insurance Amount Calculation
For 2022, the SSA established the first bend point as $1,024 and the second bend point as $6,172. Using the AIME from the earlier example of $10,141 and the bend points, we can calculate the primary insurance amount .
Below are the steps to calculating the PIA:
- Multiply the first $1,024 of the person’s AIME by 90% = $921.60
- Subtract the 1st and 2nd bend point and multiply that difference by 32% = $5,148*.32 = $1,647.35*
- Subtract the 2nd bend point amount from the total AIME amount and multiply the difference by 15%. = $3,969*.15 = $595.35
*Please note that the calculation results are required to be rounded down to the next lower multiple of 10 cents.
- The PIA is the sum of the three calculation results: = $3,164.30
*The multipliers90%, 32%, and 15%are set by law and do not change annually. The bend points are inflation-indexed but only through age 62. PIA is effectively locked in at age 62.
What Future Social Security Recipients Can Do With A My Social Security Account
If you currently do not have Social Security benefits, you may be wondering why you should sign up for my Social Security account.
However, what many future Social Security recipients dont know is that there are many benefits to having my Social Security account.
Here are the benefits of my Social Security account Account for a Future Recipient:
Access your Earnings Record and Future Benefits
The first benefit of having a my Social Security account is that it gives you the ability to track your earnings record.
To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you must earn a minimum of 40 credits over your working life.
Having a my Social Security account allows you to track your earnings record to make sure it is being reported accurately.
If there are any errors in the reporting, having online access allows you to review your record and address any errors with the Social Security Administration.
If you have earned the 40 credits required to collect Social Security benefits starting at age 62, your account will show that.
We have provided below an example of what your account will show when you earn the 40 credits.
Get an Estimate of Social Security Benefit When you Retire
Additionally, having a my Social Security account allows you to keep track of how much you are likely to get in benefits should you retire.
There is also an estimator calculator that allows you to see how much you will get in benefits if you retire at a particular age.
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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.
Who Can Use The Retirement Estimator
You can use the Retirement Estimator if you have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits and you are not:
- Currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
- Waiting for a decision about your application for benefits or Medicare.
- Age 62 or older and receiving benefits on another Social Security record.
- Eligible for a Pension Based on Work Not Covered By Social Security.
If you are currently receiving only Medicare benefits, you can still get an estimate. For more information, read our publication Retirement Information for Medicare Beneficiaries.
If you cannot use the Retirement Estimator or you want a survivors or disability benefit estimate, please use one of our other benefit calculators.
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Fact #: Social Security Benefits Are Modest
Social Security benefits are much more modest than many people realize the average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2020 was about $1,514 a month, or about $18,170 a year. For someone who worked all of their adult life at average earnings and retires at age 65 in 2020, Social Security benefits replace about 40 percent of past earnings. This replacement rate will slip to about 35 percent for a medium earner retiring at 65 in the future, chiefly because the full retirement age, which has already risen to 66, and is gradually climbing to 67 over the 2017-2022 period.
The average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2020 was $1,514 a month, or about $18,170 a year.
Moreover, most retirees enroll in Medicares Supplementary Medical Insurance and have Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks. As health care costs continue to outpace general inflation, those premiums will take a bigger bite out of their checks.
Social Security benefits are modest by international standards, too. The United States ranks just outside the bottom third of developed countries in the percentage of an average workers earnings replaced by the public pension system.
Social Security lifted 1.5 million children out of poverty in 2018, as the chart shows.