What To Consider Before Filing For Social Security
A larger benefit check sounds great, but there are tradeoffs, and soon-to-retire folks should consider multiple issues before they decide one way or the other on when to file. If you really want to consider all the avenues, then youll have to think about your finances and longevity two issues that people have a hard time grappling with.
But heres the key trade-off: you can file early and take a reduced benefit, expecting that a shorter life span will mean you receive more now, or you could file at full retirement age or later and claim a bigger check, and eventually live long enough to claim more than the first approach.
Social Security is like longevity insurance, says Brent Neiser, a Certified Financial Planner and former chair of the Consumer Advisory Board at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Its a stream of payments that will not stop throughout your life, so delaying your benefits to keep those payments as large as possible forms a helpful base to your retirement plan.
Neiser urges those who have not saved enough for retirement to use whatever means possible to postpone their Social Security benefits until after their full retirement age to help boost their future income.
You can use personal savings to help bridge the gap, but ideally you should plan to work a little longer , Neiser says.
How Will Working Affect Social Security Benefits
In a recent survey, 68% of current workers stated they plan to work for pay after retiring.1
And that possibility raises an interesting question: how will working affect Social Security benefits?
The answer to that question requires an understanding of three key concepts: full retirement age, the earnings test, and taxable benefits.
Fact #: Most Elderly Beneficiaries Rely On Social Security For The Majority Of Their Income
Social Security provides the majority of income to most elderly Americans. For about half of seniors, it provides at least 50 percent of their income, and for about 1 in 4 seniors, it provides at least 90 percent of income, across multiple surveys and the study that matches survey and administrative data.
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Do Social Security Benefits Start The Month Of Your Birthday
When To Enroll in Retirement BenefitsThe choice to begin accepting benefits as early as allowed versus delaying until full retirement age or later is a personal one. Regardless of the age you choose to collect, the payment schedule hinges on the month of your birthday. In the case of family survivors, the point of reference is the birthday of the deceased who earned enough credits for the family to be eligible for survivor benefits.
Schedule of SS paymentsSocial Security benefits are not prorated. They start the month following the birthday. The schedule, according to AARP, follows this rule: When the birth date falls between the 1st and 10th of the month, the payment is issued on the second Wednesday of the month following the birthday month. For birth dates between the 11th and 20th of the month, expect to be paid on the third Wednesday after the birthday month. For birth dates from the 21st through the last date of the month, recipients will have to wait until the fourth Wednesday of the month that follows the birthday.
Consequences of Early RetirementThe reason people struggle with the decision of whether to collect at age 62, full retirement or 70 is the exponential difference in benefits. Contrary to what some believe, 66 is not always the full retirement age as defined by the SSA. Retirement age varies with the beneficiarys year of birth, ranging anywhere from age 65, for retirees born in 1937 or earlier, to age 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
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.
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What If I Want To Work In Retirement
Sometimes leaving the workforce is neither feasible nor appealing. Thats why some retirees find part-time jobs to pass the time or earn extra money.
Getting a part-time job after retiring early may reduce your benefit amount until you reach full retirement age. The SSA may withhold a certain amount of money from your benefit check if your earnings exceed the annual limit. For 2021, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above $18,960. If youll reach your full retirement age in 2021, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn above a different limit up until the month you turn 67. For a comparison, benefits were reduced in 2020 by $1 for every $2 earned above $18,240, and reduced by $1 for every $3 earned above $48,600 for those who reached full retirement age that year.
The SSA doesnt penalize working retirees forever. Youll receive all of the benefits the government withheld after you reach your full retirement age. At that time, the SSA recalculates your benefit amount.
While You Can Start Collecting Benefits At Age 62 Should You Collect Early Or Delay
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For many elderly people, Social Security benefits make up one of their primary sources of income in retirement. For half of seniors, Social Security comprises about half of their retirement income, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Some studies estimate that without Social Security, between 30% and 40% of senior citizens would be considered below the poverty line.
The age at which you decide to collect your Social Security benefits has a big impact on how much you’ll earn from the program over time because the longer you wait, the higher your monthly payout will be.
“Don’t just call Social Security and apply at age 62. Everybody has options. A married couple could receive $1 to $1.5 million in benefits over their lifetime. And single people could maybe half of that,” says Marc Kiner, a CPA at Premier Social Security Consulting. “And do not assume that Social Security will review your options with you.”
Select spoke to Kiner and Jim Blair, the lead consultant at Premier, about some of the factors you should consider when deciding when to apply for Social Security benefits.
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If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it.
If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:
If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.
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Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that were putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts, who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.
Our reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most how to save for retirement, understanding the types of accounts, how to choose investments and more so you can feel confident when planning for your future.
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Spouses And Social Security
You can claim Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work record. If claiming spousal benefits provides more, claiming before your FRA on a spouse’s record means you’ll lose even more than claiming on your own recordthe benefit reduction for a spouse is up to 35% while the reduction for claiming your own benefit is up to 30%. For instance, if you’re the spouse of Colleen in the above example and you are the same age, you’d be eligible for only $650 a month at age 6235% less than the $1000 a month you would get at your FRA of 67.
Not married? Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: Social Security tips for singles
Your decision to take benefits early could outlive you. If you were to die before your spouse, they would be eligible to receive your monthly amount as a survivor benefitif it’s higher than their own amount. But if you take your benefits early, say at age 62 versus waiting until age 70, your spouse’s survivor Social Security benefit could be up to 30% less for the remainder of their lifetime.
Social Security Benefits: How Long Does It Take To Get Approved
As an American taxpayer, youve likely heard about Social Security your entire working life, and perhaps even bemoaned the amount of taxes that are subtracted from your paycheck. But as you approach retirement age, youre likely aware that you can soon begin drawing benefits instead of paying them out. But fewer Americans are as well-versed in the actual procedures and timelines of applying for Social Security benefits. Heres a look at how long it takes to get approved for Social Security benefits, along with some other information you should be aware of regarding the process.
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How Much Social Security Will I Get If I Make 60000 A Year
If you retire at full retirement age, you will get a monthly benefit of $2,096.48. To put it another way, Social Security will replace around 42% of your previous $60,000 in earnings. That is much better than the average unemployment rate of 26 percent for those earning $120,000 annually.
When Your First Benefit Will Be Paid
Only 7% of people can actually receive their Social Security earned income for the calendar month of their birthday, and of that small group, none will collect the benefit during the calendar month of their birthday. This is due to the odd way that the Social Security Administration segments people based on their birthday, and SSA rules around schedule of payments.
It helps to know that the SSA considers you to be born 24 hours before you were truly born. So, if you were born on April 1, the SSA considers you to have been born on March 31. If you were born on April 2, it considers you to have been born on April 1. This is important because Social Security benefits are not paid for partial months in order to receive benefits for a given month, a beneficiary must be eligible for those benefits every day of that month.
Thus, for people who turn 62 in April, only those born on April 1 and April 2 are able to receive a benefit in the month when they turn 62. Otherwise, the first Social Security payment will be for the month of May.
But this is only part of the story, since receiving a benefit for the month of your birthday is not the same as receiving a benefit during the month of your birthday. Social Security benefits including earned, survivor and disability are paid a month late, meaning that a benefit that relates to the month of April will be paid out in May.
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How To Calculate Social Security Benefits
Lets say your FRA is 66. If you start claiming benefits at age 66 and your full monthly benefit is $2,000, then youll get $2,000 per month. If you start claiming benefits at age 62, which is 48 months early, then your benefit will be reduced to 75% of your full monthly benefitalso called your primary insurance amount. In other words, youll get 25% less per month, and your check will be $1,500.
That reduced benefit wont increase once you reach age 66. Rather, youll continue to receive it for the rest of your life. It may go up over time due to cost-of-living adjustments , but only slightly. You can do the math for your own situation using the Social Security Administration Early or Late Retirement Calculator, one of a number of benefit calculators provided by the SSA that can also help you determine your FRA, the SSAs estimate of your life expectancy for benefit calculations, rough estimates of your retirement benefits, individualized projections of your benefits based on your personal work record, and more.
Although the cost-of-living adjustments announced each year are usually only slight increases, Social Security benefits will increase by 5.9% in 2022, marking the largest increase since 1982.
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.
How Do You Apply For Social Security Benefits
If you are eligible for Social Security benefits, you can apply online, by phone or by appointment at a local Social Security office.
How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
- Applying online is the easiest way to apply for Social Security benefits. The Social Security website allows you to apply for retirement, spouses, Medicare and disability benefits at the same site. You can also apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
- If you dont have Internet access, you can sign up by phone. You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 .
- The Social Security Administration has restrictions on office visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. It does allow in-person visits for certain services. You should check with the SSAs Coronavirus page to see if you can make an in-person appointment at your local office.
Social Security Retirement Age : If You Are A Widow/widower
If you are a widow or widower, you can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as 60. If you have not reached your full retirement age, and you are still working and earn more than the earnings limit, your benefits will be reduced. Once you reach full retirement age, no more reductions will apply, regardless of how much you work and earn. Those working will want to consider waiting until their full retirement age to begin widow/widower benefits.
One option available to widows/widowers is to file a restricted application, which means you can begin one type of benefit, such as a survivor benefit then when you reach 70, you can switch over to your retirement benefit amount if it would be larger.
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What A Social Security Break
In a nutshell, a Social Security break-even calculator can tell you when the best age is to start taking Social security benefits, in terms of how much money you could expect to receive over time. Going back to the previous example, lets assume that you track your benefit amounts over a 10-year, 20-year and 30-year period. Heres how your total benefits received would look over each of those periods, for all three starting points.
Your cumulative benefits after 10 years:
- $144,000, starting at age 62
- $122,400, starting at age 66
- $52,800, starting at age 70
Your cumulative benefits after 20 years:
- $288,000, starting at age 62
- $326,400, starting at age 66
- $316,800, starting at age 70
Your cumulative benefits after 30 years:
- $432,000, starting at age 62
- $530,400, starting at age 66
- $580,800, starting at age 70
You can see that youd draw the most Social Security benefits in total if you wait until age 70 to start taking them, assuming you live to age 100. But that could be a big if when youre not in the best health.
What you have to keep in mind when using a Social Security break-even calculator is that the numbers are hypothetical. They dont take into things that could affect your ability to draw benefits or how far those benefits might go, such as:
How Long Does It Take To Get Your First Social Security Check
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Social Security retirement benefits are available to American workers who have paid into the system throughout their working years. Originally established after the Great Depression, Social Security is a supplemental retirement program designed to ensure retired citizens have some level of income from which to live after they stop working.
Social Security benefits make it possible for all individuals who have worked and paid into the Social Security fund to count on a benefit check that will provide income to cover living expenses and other financial needs once they are retired.
Give me my check!
For many people Social Security is the only retirement benefit that they can count on, while others will add this income to distributions from other retirement accounts they have funded throughout the years. Here we take a closer look at some common questions asked about Social Security retirement benefits.
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