Wednesday, August 10, 2022

When Should I Start Applying For Social Security

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Remember that while you are eligible for reduced Social Security benefits at 62, you won’t be eligible for Medicare until age 65, so you will probably have to pay for private health insurance in the meantime. That can eat up a large chunk of your Social Security payments.

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How To Apply For Social Security

If you’re approaching retirement age, you may have some idea of when you’d like to start receiving Social Security benefits. However, you may not know how the application process works or when you need to apply in order to start receiving benefits at a specific time. Here’s what you need to know about how to apply for Social Security, what information you’ll need to gather, and when to fill out the application.

Three ways to applyWhen it comes time to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you have three options. You can use the Social Security Administration’s online application process, which should take no more than 30 minutes as long as you’ve gathered all of the required information and documentation .

You can also choose to apply by phone, or at your local Social Security office if you’d rather have someone there to assist with the process. Whichever method you feel most comfortable using, your application will be reviewed and processed as soon as all necessary documentation and information is received. And, the Social Security Administration will notify you if it turns out you could qualify for higher benefits on your spouse’s record, or if other family members can receive benefits on your work record.

Bear in mind that Social Security benefits are paid in the month after they are due. So, if you start your benefits on your 62nd birthday, you won’t start receiving payments until the following month.

A Reader Poses A Question Thats Trickier Than It Seems

One of the things I think Im pretty good at is answering questions about federal retirement, but a recent email about Social Security left me stumpedtwice.

Greg, a longtime federal employee, wrote to me:

Social Security benefits max out at age 70, I get that. But filing too soon loses a portion of the maximum amount, and filing too late loses a whole monthly benefit. I have searched all over, and nowhere can I find out exactly what the best date is to request benefits begin. My wife reaches age 70 in the middle of April and we were wondering how to maximize her benefit by selecting the best starting date.

I thought Greg was asking a very common question: When is the best time to file for Social Security retirement? So I replied as follows:

There are a lot of theories about claiming Social Security benefits. Social Security has a fact sheet on this question as well. There are many factors that can influence the best time for you:

  • Are you married or single?
  • What is the age difference between you and spouse, if married.
  • What is the income difference between you and your spouse, if married.
  • Do you have children age 18 or younger?
  • Are you widowed?
  • Are you still working or fully retired?
  • Do you have other sources of retirement income that could bridge the time between retirement and a later application for Social Security?
  • Do you have good health and family history that shows longevity?

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Supplementing Your Social Security Income

For many retirees, the income they receive from Social Security is not enough to live off of: According to AARP, the estimated average Social Security monthly benefit in 2022 is $1,657. If you haven’t started saving for retirement it’s essential to start early so you can take advantage of the power of compound interest .

If your company offers an employer-sponsored 401 with matching contributions, you should prioritize receiving the match because it’s essentially free money.

You might also consider opening an individual retirement account, either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which have unique tax benefits.

With a traditional IRA, individuals invest pretax income and don’t pay taxes until they withdraw their earnings. With a Roth IRA individuals invest after-tax money so their withdrawals are tax-free. A Roth IRA is considered a good option for those who anticipate being in a higher income tax bracket in retirement: Rather than paying higher taxes later on, you’ll pay taxes on your contributions upfront.

A Roth IRA, however, is not available to everyone. For 2022, the income limit for single-filers is $144,000 and for married couples filing jointly it’s $204,000. Companies like Vanguard, Wealthfront, Betterment, and Fidelity Investments all provide traditional and Roth IRA options.

Doing A Breakeven Analysis And Other Ways To Decide How Soon To Start

When Should I Start Taking Social Security?

    InvestopediaForbes AdvisorThe Motley Fool, CredibleInsider

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        If youre about to retire, you may be wondering whether you should start claiming your hard-earned Social Security benefits now. Here are a few key factors to consider in making that decision.

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        How Does Work Affect Your Social Security Payments

          Many people continue to work beyond retirement age, either by choice or out of necessity. But if you are receiving Social Security benefits, you need to be aware of how working can affect your benefit payments. Earning income above Social Security thresholds can cause a reduction in benefits and mean your benefits will be taxed.

          Whether it makes sense to work and collect Social Security at the same time is a complicated assessment that depends on how much you earn and when you begin taking Social Security benefits.

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          If you work and are full retirement age or older, you can earn as much as you want and your benefits will not be reduced. However, individuals may begin taking Social Security retirement benefits early beginning at age 62. If you are younger than full retirement age, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. If you earn more than $18,960 , Social Security will deduct $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn over the threshold. In the year you reach full retirement age, you can earn up to $50,520 without having a reduction in benefits. However, if you exceed $50.520 in earnings, Social Security will deduct $1 from your benefits for each $3 you earn until the month you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefits will no longer be reduced.

          For more information on Social Security, .

          What Is The Break Even Point And Why Is It Important

          Whenever you wait until age 70 to collect benefits, you’ll be missing out on the years you weren’t receiving payments. If you’re deciding when to collect, you might consider calculating your break even point.

          Your break even point tells you at what age you’ll receive more in total Social Security earnings, by collecting at full retirement age or at age 70, than you would have had you collected benefits early.

          For many people, the breakeven point is around 12 and ½ years after age 70 or full retirement age, says Blair.

          For example, if you collected early at age 62 rather than delay until your full retirement age of 67, you would be earning an additional five years worth of benefits. However, if you collected at 62, your benefit would be reduced by 30%. An individual collecting at age 67 would need to survive around another 12 years after collecting benefits to ‘break even’ compared to getting payouts starting at age 62.

          You can calculate your own break even number, but note that the number might not be accurate if you don’t consider factors like the cost of living adjustment or having a spouse, divorced spouse or survivor’s benefit.

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          Working While Collecting Social Security Retirement

          Many people choose or need, to keep working after claiming Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you continue work after claiming early retirement benefits your Social Security benefits may be reduced until you reach your full retirement age.

          If you retire at age 62, Social Security will deduct money from your retirement check if you exceed a certain amount of earned income for the calendar year. For example, the income limit in 2018 was $17,040 or $1,420 per month. The income limit increases annually. Until you reach your full retirement age, Security will reduce your benefit by $1 for every $2 you earn over the income limit. Once you reach your full retirement age, you will receive your full Social Security retirement benefit with no limitation on how much income you earn from working.

          The worse news is that Social Security does not apply the early retirement work penalty by simply deducting a small amount from each monthly benefit check. Instead, the agency may withhold several months entire checks until the total reduction is paid off. This means your annual budget will have to account for a certain number of months without a benefit check. Complete details on this decidedly complicated process can be found in Social Securitys pamphlet on How Work Affects Your Benefits. You can also use Social Securitys earnings test calculator to see how much your reduction will be and when your checks will be withheld.

          If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

          When Should I Apply for Social Security || Part 1 of 3 of our Social Security Series

          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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          When Should You Retire

          To draw full retirement benefits, the following Social Security Administration age rules apply:

          Born in 1937 or earlier – Full retirement can be drawn at age 65Born in 1938 – Full retirement can be drawn at age 65 years and 2 monthsBorn in 1939 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 65 years and 4 monthsBorn in 1940 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 65 years and 6 monthsBorn in 1941 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 65 years and 8 monthsBorn in 1942 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 65 years and 10 monthsBorn in 1943-1954 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 66Born in 1955 – Full retirement can be drawn at age 66 and 2 monthsBorn in 1956 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 66 and 4 monthsBorn in 1957 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 66 and 6 monthsBorn in 1958 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 66 and 8 monthsBorn in 1959 — Full retirement can be drawn at age 66 and 10 monthsBorn in 1960 or later — Full retirement can be drawn at age 67

          Remember that while you can begin drawing Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, your benefits will be 25 percent less than what they will be if you wait until your full retirement age as shown above. Also keep in mind that no matter when you start drawing Social Security benefits, you must be 65 to be eligible for Medicare.

          For example, people who waited until age 70 to retire in 2017 could get a maximum benefit of $3,538.

          How To Stop Social Security Check Payments

          The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.

          If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.

          Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.

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          Consider Your Personal Circumstances

          There are many factors you should consider when deciding when to start receiving your CPP retirement pension. These include your health, your financial situation, and your plans for retirement.

          For example, if youre healthy, expect to live a long life, or have access to other sources of income, you may choose to start receiving your CPP retirement pension later. This will result in a larger monthly pension, which could help protect you from outliving your savings.

          However, if youd prefer to work less, or you want the money now to pay off debts or to fund your retirement plans, you may choose to start receiving your pension before age 65. This will result in a smaller monthly payment which can help meet immediate needs, especially if you have little or no other income.

          The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator can also help you better understand your future financial security.

          What If I Change My Mind

          Do LTD Benefits Have to Be Paid Back If I Start Receiving ...

          If you receive Social Security benefits at a reduced rate, but then change your mind, you have the option of withdrawing your application and paying back to the government what you’ve already received . Then, you could restart benefits at a later date to take advantage of a higher payout. But you are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.

          For example, let’s say you elected to receive early benefits at age 62, but then decided to go back to work at age 63. You could withdraw your Social Security application within the first 12 months of receiving benefits, pay back the years’ worth of benefits you received, go back to work, and then wait until a later age to restart your benefit checks at a higher level.

          For important details about repaying benefits please read the SSA publication If You Change Your Mind.

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          Before You Make Your Decision

          There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit will be reduced. Each person’s situation is different. It is important to remember:

          • If you delay your benefits until after full retirement age, you will be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit.
          • That there are other things to consider when making the decision about when to begin receiving your retirement benefits.

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          Youll Get A Bigger Monthly Social Security Check If You Wait Until 70

          Claiming Social Security before you reach full retirement age will result in a reduction in benefits as much as 25% to 30% less than you would have received if you had waited. That reduction is permanent.

          Instead, if you wait to take your benefits until after your FRA, Social Security will add an 8% delayed retirement credit to your eventual monthly payout each year you hold off, up until age 70.

          Thats a guaranteed return of 8% per year of deferral after your FRA, which could be more than you might receive with any other fixed products right now. Its definitely more than the cost of living adjustments that Social Security beneficiaries have been getting for the past decade, which have averaged about 1.5% a year.

          Those COLA increases are not always enough to keep up with true inflation. And, when there is a COLA for Social Security, it may be coupled with a Medicare premium increase.

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          The Downside Of Claiming Early: Reduced Benefits

          Consider the following hypothetical example. Colleen is 62 as of 2022. If Colleen waits until age 67 to collect, she will receive approximately $2,000 a month. However, if she begins taking benefits at age 62, she’ll receive only $1,400 a month. This “early retirement” penalty is permanent and results in her receiving up to 30% less year after year.

          However, if Colleen waits until age 70, her monthly benefits will increase another 24% over what she would receive at her FRA, to a total of $2,480 per month.1 If she were to live to age 89, her lifetime benefits would be about $112,000 more, or at least 24% greater, because she waited until age 70 to collect Social Security benefits.2

          What Is The Best Age To Apply For Social Security

          At What Age Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?

            When it comes to planning your retirement, the decisions that you make regarding your Social Security application may be the most important numbers game you will ever play in your life. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 48% of women and 42% of men who claimed Social Security retirement benefits in 2013 did so as soon as they were eligible at age 62. I believe that it is usually a mistake when single people apply for Social Security that early, but it is even worse for married couples who do so – especially in cases where the husband was the primary wage earner.

            The Best Age To Apply For Social Security

            The rational that I often hear from people who want to apply for Social Security at age 62 usually runs this way: Why not? Ive paid into the system for decades, and I might as well get something out of it before it goes bankrupt, right? It might feel like the best option at the time, but down the road you may find that it was the worst decision you ever made in your life.

            The Social Security Break Even Point

            The graph above shows that applying for Social Security at age 62 could be a very bad decision over… the long term.

            James Lange

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            There will always be attenuating circumstances that make everyones choice personal and unique. But, plan your Social Security decisions so that they make sense for both you and your spouse, for the short term and long term!

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