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.
Will My Social Security Benefits Be Reduced
The Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset are just two examples of how financial planning for public sector workers can differ from their private sector counterparts.
Both can impact your Social Security benefits if you:
- work for an employer who didn’t withhold Social Security taxes, such as some state and local government systems,
- receive a pension based on that work, and
- qualify for Social Security benefits based on other employment.
The WEP can reduce what you, or your spouse or a child, could get based on your earnings.
The GPO can reduce what you could get based on a current, ex, or decedent spouse’s earnings.
The Social Security Administration knows when you didn’t pay into Social Security in fact, your Social Security Statement will reflect that by showing $0 earnings years but it doesnt know if you will be entitled to a pension. So your Statement wont reflect any WEP reduction.
It’s critical to understand and plan for both the WEP and GPO if you’re impacted by them. Otherwise you may overestimate your retirement income and be in for a nasty surprise.
If you’re subject to the WEP, its impact may be lessened.
The GPO can reduce the benefit you get from your spouses earnings by up to two-thirds. Unlike the WEP, there is no limit on the reduction so it can completely eliminate your spousal benefit.
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How Should I Decide When To Take Benefits
Consider the following factors as you decide when to take Social Security.
Your cash needs: If you’re contemplating early retirement and you have sufficient resources , you can be flexible about when to take Social Security benefits.
If you’ll need your Social Security benefits to make ends meet, you may have fewer options. If possible, you may want to consider postponing retirement or work part-time until you reach your full retirement ageor even longer so that you can maximize your benefits.
Your life expectancy and break-even age: Taking Social Security early reduces your benefits, but you’ll also receive monthly checks for a longer period of time. On the other hand, taking Social Security later results in fewer checks during your lifetime, but the credit for waiting means each check will be larger.
At what age will you break even and begin to come out ahead if you delay Social Security? The break-even age depends on the amount of your benefits and the assumptions you use to account for taxes and the opportunity cost of waiting . The SSA has several handy calculators you can use to estimate your own benefits.
If you think you’ll beat the average life expectancy, then waiting for a larger monthly check might be a good deal. On the other hand, if you’re in poor health or have reason to believe you won’t beat the average life expectancy, you might decide to take what you can while you can.
The Maximum Social Security Payout For 2022 Is $4194
Only earnings up to the Social Security wage base are considered for calculating benefits. In other words, whether you earn $147,000 in 2022 or $10 million, you’ll pay the same amount of Social Security taxes and earn the same amount of credit toward your benefits. This also means that there is a maximum allowable Social Security payout, which for 2022 is $4,194. But hardly any recipients actually qualify for the maximum benefit, as you’d have to earn the full wage base limit for 35 years and wait to claim your benefits until age 70. Most Social Security beneficiaries receive something closer to the average benefit, which was $1,657.
Fact #: Social Security Provides A Guaranteed Progressive Benefit That Keeps Up With Increases In The Cost Of Living
Social Security benefits are based on the earnings on which you pay Social Security payroll taxes. The higher your earnings , the higher your benefit.
Social Security benefits are progressive: they represent a higher proportion of a workers previous earnings for workers at lower earnings levels.
Social Security benefits are progressive: they represent a higher proportion of a workers previous earnings for workers at lower earnings levels. For example, benefits for a low earner retiring at age 65 in 2020 replace about half of their prior earnings. But benefits for a high earner replace about one-quarter of prior earnings, though they are larger in dollar terms than those for the low-wage worker.
Many employers have shifted from offering traditional defined-benefit pension plans, which guarantee a certain benefit level upon retirement, toward defined-contribution plans s), which pay a benefit based on a workers contributions and the rate of return they earn. Social Security, therefore, will be most workers only source of guaranteed retirement income that is not subject to investment risk or financial market fluctuations.
Once someone starts receiving Social Security, their benefits increase to keep pace with inflation, helping to ensure that people do not fall into poverty as they age. In contrast, most private pensions and annuities are not adjusted for inflation.
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Tax On Social Security Benefits
You may have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefit, depending on your income level. If your retirement income is over a certain amount, then part of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.
Single-filers with an income between $25,000 and $34,000 will have to pay income tax on up to 50% of their benefits. If they make more than $34,000, then up to 85% of the benefits may be taxable.
Keep this in mind when filing your tax return. You may also be able to withhold your taxes from your Social Security benefits payments, so you arenât stuck with a large tax bill on Tax Day. Check your SSA account online or visit your local Social Security office for more information.
Lost Or Stolen Federal Payments
Report your lost, missing, or stolen federal check to the agency that issued the payment. It’s usually one of these paying agencies. If your documentation indicates it’s a different agency, and you need its contact information, look in the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.
To get an update on your claim, contact the Treasury Department Philadelphia Financial Center at 1-855-868-0151, option 1.
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.
How To Correct An Error On Your Social Security Statement
If you have evidence of your covered earnings in the year or years for which you think Social Security has made an error, call Social Security’s helpline at 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This is the line that takes all kinds of Social Security questions, and it is often swamped, so be patient. It is best to call early in the morning or late in the afternoon, late in the week, or late in the month. Have all your documents handy when you speak with a representative.
If you would rather speak with someone in person, call your local Social Security office and make an appointment to see someone there, or drop into the office during regular business hours. If you drop in, be prepared to wait, perhaps as long as an hour or two, before you get to see a representative. Bring with you two copies of your benefits statement and the evidence that supports your claim of higher income. That way, you can leave one copy with the Social Security worker. Write down the name of the person with whom you speak so that you can reach the same person when you follow up.
The process to correct errors is slow. It may take several months to have the changes made in your record. After Social Security confirms that it has corrected your record, request another benefits statement to make sure the correct information made it to your file.
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Explore How The Age You Start Collecting Social Security Affects Your Retirement Benefits
The calculator bases your benefit estimate on current formulas from the Social Security Administration. Your answers are anonymous. Because we do not access or use your Social Security earnings record, these are rough estimates.
Your estimated benefits:
Select claiming ages on the graph to see how your estimated benefit changes.
Claiming at age Age 67 is your full benefit claiming age.
Compared to claiming at your full benefit claiming age.
Social Security retirement benefits are not designed to be your sole source of retirement income, but waiting even one month will increase your benefits.
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 so maximizing this stream of income is critical.
The rules for claiming Social Security benefits can be complex, but this guide will help you successfully navigate the details. Educating yourself can ensure that you claim the maximum amount to which you are entitled.
Here are 12 essential details you need to know.
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Why It Pays To File For Social Security At Fra
When you claim Social Security ahead of FRA, your benefits get reduced. And filing at age 62 means slashing your benefits by 25% to 30%, depending on your FRA. That’s a risky thing, because if you end up depleting your nest egg faster than expected, or your retirement living costs end up being higher than expected, you might need more income from Social Security to help compensate.
Similarly, there’s a risk in delaying your filing beyond FRA — that you won’t end up living a long enough life for that to be your best financial move. See, delaying your claim will result in a higher monthly benefit. It won’t necessarily score you a higher lifetime benefit, though. To get that, you’ll generally need to live a pretty long life, and if you pass away in your 70s, delaying your filing will generally mean ending up with less Social Security income all in.
That’s why filing for benefits at FRA may be your safest bet. That way, your benefits aren’t reduced, but you also don’t have to wait too long to collect them. If you end up with health issues that shorten your life expectancy, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you didn’t wait too long to first start receiving your benefits.
Do You Expect To Have Additional Sources Of Retirement Income Beyond Social Security
Continue saving in the coming years.
Social Security won’t replace all of your pre-retirement income. On average, Social Security replaces 40 percent of a worker’s income. That means your retirement savings, pension, 401, or Individual Retirement Account will need to fill the gap. Claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later can minimize this gap and maximize your monthly benefit. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be reduced by as much as 30 percent.Learn more about saving for retirement.
You have an opportunity to continue growing your money.
If you can, get the highest monthly Social Security benefit possible by claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be permanently reduced by as much as 30 percent. Also, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401 or Individual Retirement Account . Lastly, avoid losing your retirement savings to unnecessary tax penalties. If you withdraw your 401 or IRA savings before age 59½, you will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.Learn more about how retirement savings grow.
It’s a perfect time to start saving.
It’s never too late to start saving!
There are many ways to plan for a secure retirement outside of Social Security.
It’s never too late to start saving!
A type of retirement savings account offered by employers to help their employees save for retirement.
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Brief History Of Social Security
The Social Security program was created by the Social Security Act that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law in 1935. The first checks went out in 1940. Originally it paid benefits only to workers 65 and older, but in the 1970s the government altered it to allow workers to claim benefits as early as 62. It also instituted annual cost-of-living adjustments to help Social Security keep pace with inflation.
The program has worked fairly well so far, but many people fear for the future, when there will be fewer workers to support a greater number of Social Security recipients. The latest Social Security Trustees’ Report indicates the program’s trust funds would be depleted by 2034, after which it would be able to pay out only about 76% of benefits to retirees and about 92% to disabled workers.
The government has proposed several possible solutions for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program, but at present no plans have been set. There’s no risk of the program disappearing in the next decade or two, but it’s possible future benefits may not go as far as they do today. That’s why today’s workers need to prioritize their personal retirement savings, so they can cover most of their expenses on their own.
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How Is Social Security Calculated
To determine your monthly benefits, the Social Security Administration uses a series of somewhat complicated calculations. At their heart is an inflation-adjusted average of your monthly income from your highest earning years.
This monthly average is run through an income replacement formula that determines your base monthly Social Security payment rate in retirement. This base rate will then be adjusted upward or downward depending on a few factors, like your age when you start claiming Social Security benefits, your employment status in retirement, your tax bracket and your Medicare premiums.
If that sounds overly complex, dont fret. Heres how each part of the Social Security calculation breaks down.
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Maximum Social Security Benefits Example
Say that someone who turned 62 in 2021 will reach FRA at 66 years and 10 months, with earnings that make them eligible at that point for a monthly benefit of $1,000. Opting to receive benefits at age 62 will reduce their monthly benefit by 29.2% to $708 to account for the longer time they could receive benefits, according to the Social Security Administration . That decrease is usually permanent.
If that same person waits to get benefits until age 70, their monthly benefit increases to $1,253. The larger amount is due to the delayed retirement credits earned for the decision to postpone receiving benefits past FRA. In this example, that higher amount at age 70 is about 77% more than the benefit they would receive each month if benefits started at age 62, or a difference of $545 each month.
Of course, the best time for someone to start taking Social Security benefits depends on a variety of factors, not just the dollar amount of the benefit. Things such as current income and employment status, other available retirement funds, and life expectancy must also be factored into the decision.
The Social Security Administration has several calculators to help you estimate your benefits.
What Is The Minimum Social Security Benefit
Most Americans rely on Social Security retirement benefits during their retirement years. Some rely solely on these benefits, while nearly all retirees depend partially on the benefit payments. You probably already know that your benefit amount is calculated based on your lifetime earnings record. So how much does Social Security pay, and what happens to the monthly payments for low-income individuals? The primary insurance amount calculated based on their earnings record would likely be so low there would be no way for them to survive on that amount. The Social Security Administration has another method of calculating benefits for these individuals called the Special Minimum Benefit. Keep reading as we tell you how much this special amount is as well as how it is calculated.
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Your Disability Payment Is Based On Your Average Lifetime Earnings Before You Became Disabled The Severity Of Disability Does Not Factor In Although Payments From Other Sources Can
Unlike Supplemental Security Income , which also pays benefits to people who are disabled and unable to work but is based on limited income and resources, SSDI requires that you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain length of time.
The average SSDI payment is currently $1,277. The highest monthly payment you can receive from SSDI in 2021, at full retirement age, is $3,148. This article covers how the monthly benefit is calculated.