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When Should I Start To Collect Social Security

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Future Of Social Security

When Should I Start Collecting Social Security?
Fast Fact

An increase in eligible participants combined with an increase in life expectancy is straining the Social Security program. Because of the financial burden this created, Social Security was amended in 1983, changing the age people can collect full Social Security benefits.

As a result of the 1983 amendments, the retirement age will increase between 2003 and 2026 from age 65 to age 67 with an 11-year gap at which the retirement age will remain at 66, depending on the year of birth.

Economic analysts predict that the Social Security system eventually will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. Analysts have long warned of this shortfall, and they predict the program could be in jeopardy as of 2035.

It is anticipated a reduction in benefits of about 13% or an immediate increase in payroll tax rate from 12.4 to 14.4%, or a little of both, will be needed to allow full payment of scheduled payments for the next 75 years.

As the challenges to meet the needs of millions of retirees continue, policymakers and politicians continue to argue about revamping or privatizing the program. The recent economic downturn has affected jobs and savings programs, further weakening the program. With so many people dependent upon Social Security for retirement benefits, its vital to understand the system and its limitations, as well as to make changes before time runs out.

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How To Receive Federal Benefits

To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.

If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:

  • Call the Go Direct Helpline at .

If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:

Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:

Learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.

How A Social Security Break

Figuring out the right time to start taking Social Security benefits isnt always a straightforward process. A Social Security break-even calculator can help you get some perspective on the numbers so you know what you stand to gain or lose by taking benefits earlier versus later.

Social Security break-even calculators help you find the best age to start taking retirement benefits. They do this by comparing your cumulative Social Security retirement benefits paid at age 62, your full retirement age and at age 70 and estimating how long it would take the benefits paid at age 70 to break even with benefits paid starting at age 62.

Heres a simple calculation to give you an idea of how a Social Security break-even calculator works. Say that you have the option to begin receiving $1,200 a month in benefits at age 62. Youd receive $1,700 in benefits if you wait until full retirement age at 66. Or you could receive $2,200 a month in benefits by delaying them until age 70.

The break-even point represents when the cumulative benefits even out. So if you wait until age 70 to start taking benefits, it would take you until age 79 to break even with the benefit amount youd receive if you started taking them at age 62. If you were to start receiving benefits at age 66, it would take you until age 75 to break even with the benefits youd receive if you started them at 62.

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The Bottom Line On When To Start Social Security

Timing your Social Security benefits is a complex decision that will vary from person to person. Knowing the answers to the above questions will help you gauge when might be right for you, but consider speaking to a retirement professional, like a Certified Financial Planner , to map out when may be the right time to file for Social Security.

Earned Income Before Age 66 Or 67

Should I retire now at age 62 and collect Social Security ...

The Social Security Administration defines your full retirement age as the day you are able to start collecting benefits. It depends on the day you were born, and for most people ends up being about age 66 or 67. But you’re allowed to retire, as the SSA defines it, as early as age 62. If you reach this age and you are still working, you may wish to start receiving your benefits right away, but this doesn’t always make the most sense in the long run.

Why? Because if you earn over the earnings limit, your benefits will be reduced. The SSA uses your own income to figure how much they should pay each month, and if you’re making money they assume you don’t need the full amount. But once you reach full retirement age your benefit each month will stay the same, whether or not you have any other sources of income.

You should also keep in mind that when tax season rolls around, your benefits are counted as income, and so your monthly check from the SSA will be taxed along with any other income you earn.

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Timing And Your Health Coverage

Your health insurance coverage can also play a role in deciding when to claim Social Security benefits. Do you have a health savings account to which you would like to keep contributing? If so, note that if youre age 65 or older, then receiving Social Security benefits requires you to sign up for Medicare Part A, and once you sign up for Medicare Part A, youll no longer be allowed to add funds to your HSA.

The SSA also cautions that even if you delay receiving Social Security benefits until after age 65, you might still need to apply for Medicare benefits within three months of turning 65 to avoid paying higher premiums for life for Medicare Part B and Part D. If you are still receiving health insurance from your or your spouses employer, however, then you might not yet have to enroll in Medicare.

On March 17, 2020, all Social Security offices were closed completely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Aug. 5, 2021, they are only open by appointment, and to get an appointment, you need to be in a limited, critical situation. Most people will have to transact their business online, by phone, or through the mail.

How Does Work Affect Social Security Benefits

You can receive Social Security benefits and work at the same time. In fact, you can collect at age 62 whether youre working or not. However, if you collect benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits will be temporarily reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above $18,960 per year in 2021. If you work during the year you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for every $3 you earn above a higher limit , but only counting earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.

Once you reach full retirement age, you can receive your benefits with no limit on your earnings. You are also paid back the earnings that were held while you were working.

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You Need More Money In The Early Retirement Years

In the first stage of retirement, many people are healthy, have a lot of energy, and spend more money on hobbies, travel, and other entertainment. As a result, many newbie retirees need increased cash flow during the earlier years of retirementand less as they get older.

If you fall into this category and want to boost your cash flow now, early Social Security benefits could help. Sure, you’ll have a lower payout than if you waited. But if enjoying your retirement while you’re healthiest is more important than collecting a larger Social Security check later, it makes sense to start early.

And The Results Are In

Should I Collect Social Security Early and Invest It?

Here were the results: If you need to generate an income stream of $662 per month, it would require an annuity of $115,539 and an investment portfolio of nearly $160,000.

For the annuity, this would mean that youd have to achieve an annual return of 10% and for the portfolio option youd need to get a return of 21%.

Keep in mindthese are the returns needed to break even. Youd have to exceed that to do better that what youd get with almost no risk from the Social Security administration. Im not sure how you feel about your capabilities to get consistent investment returns like these, but if you canmaybe you should start a hedge fund. I can tell you that theres no way I would take that chance with a clients money.

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No One Else Is Relying On Your Benefits

In the event of your death, a surviving spouse, minor or disabled child can receive money from the Social Security Administration based on the amount of your benefits. For example, a surviving spouse can receive between 71.5% and 100% of your benefit amount, depending on the surviving spouse’s age. A disabled child can receive 75% of your benefits each month even after you’re gone.

If no one else can qualify for benefits based on your record, you might want to retire early because no one is depending on that money. If everything else falls into place and you meet the minimum Social Security retirement age, consider collecting your benefits early and enjoying life.

When It Makes Sense To Collect Before Full Retirement Age

    If you take early Social Security, you start collecting retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age. That’s age 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born.

    You can start to collect Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but your monthly check will be lower than if you wait until your full retirement age. You get the largest benefit if you wait until age 70 to collect. Still, there are several situations when taking Social Social early makes senseeven if it means a smaller check.

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    Get Your Social Security Estimates

    The SSA website provides estimates for how much you’ll collect if you start receiving benefits at age 62, your full retirement age , and age 70. Remember that you don’t have to start taking your benefits at those milestone ages you and your spouse can start collecting anytime between ages 62 and 70.

    Can My Social Security Benefit Grow If I Work Past Age 70

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      The Cast of Grace and Frankie are past the age of 70, which means they are all collecting Social … Security. LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 02: Actors Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda attend #NETFLIXFYSEE Event For ‘Grace and Frankie’ at Netflix FYSEE at Raleigh Studios on June 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

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      Social Security benefits are a major part of many American retirement incomes. As people are living longer, many more are working past the age of 70. If this is you, or maybe you in the future, you are likely wondering if working past the age of 70 will increase your Social Security benefits.

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      Social Security Benefits If Youre Married

      Determining Social Security calculations is a bit more complicated if you are married because you have the option to base benefits on your spouses salary history.

      If the lesser earning spouses benefits are based on the higher earning spouses, then the limit of those earnings will be 50 percent of the higher earning spouses benefit amount.

      To illustrate this, lets talk about A and B, a married couple.

      • A makes significantly more money than B.
      • A makes so much more money that As monthly Social Security benefits are going to be more than twice of Bs, based on Bs salary history.
      • The good news for B is that they can choose to have their Social Security benefits based on As salary history and can receive as much as 50 percent of As monthly benefit. This is the case even if B didnt hold a job outside the home.

      On the other hand, if Bs monthly benefit would have been more than half of As, based on Bs salary history, then B can claim that amount.

      In short, B can claim the higher of these two possibilities: Bs own Social Security earnings or half of As.

      This all assumes that B doesnt begin claiming benefits until B reaches full retirement age. If B begins claiming earlier, then Bs benefits will be less. In addition, if B is claiming benefits based on As earnings, then B does not benefit by waiting later than full retirement age.

      B will not be given more monthly benefits if B waits until age 70, for example, based on As earnings.

      Social Security Benefits For Surviving Spouses

      If your spouse was receiving Social Security benefits upon their death, you must report the death as soon as possible. You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays or visit your local Social Security office in person.

      You are eligible for a one-time, lump-sum death benefit of $255 from Social Security if:

      • You were receiving benefits on your spouses record at the time of death, or
      • If you were living in the same household as your spouse at the time of death.

      Any benefits received in the name of your spouse during the month of death or later must be returned to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.

      If your spouse worked long enough under Social Security, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. You must be age 60 or older or disabled and 50 or older to qualify.

      How much youll receive depends on the percentage of your spouses benefit as well as your age and the type of benefit youre eligible for.

      You must apply for survivor benefits in person. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment.

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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 youre contemplating early retirement and you have sufficient resources , you can be flexible about when to take Social Security benefits.

      If youll 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 youll 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 youll beat the average life expectancy, then waiting for a larger monthly check might be a good deal. On the other hand, if youre in poor health or have reason to believe you wont beat the average life expectancy, you might decide to take what you can while you can.

      A quick note about life expectancy

      How To Calculate Your Social Security Break

      When Am I Eligible To Take and Collect Social Security

      Deciding when to take Social Security retirement benefits is important because it can directly affect your benefit amount. While you can technically start taking benefits as early as 62, youd receive them at a reduced amount. On the other hand, you could delay taking benefits up to age 70. Calculating your Social Security break-even age can help you decide when the best time is to begin taking benefits. You can do that using a Social Security break-even calculator. Additionally, it may behoove you to consult with a financial advisor about when its best for your particular situation to begin receiving Social Security benefits.

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      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 tradeoff: you can file early and take a reduced benefit, expecting that a shorter lifespan 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.

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