Factors That Affect Social Security Benefits
The math seems to say that everyone should wait until age 70 to reap the best benefits, but this isnt always the case. There are times when it might make sense to start collecting earlier. If, for example, you are in poor health or if the family breadwinner is ill and can no longer work, collecting before your full retirement age could help prevent debt from mounting up.
Your marital status also plays a factor. If youre single and in poor health, you could end up using your savings to pay for medical bills between the ages of 66 and 70. In this case, you might be better off collecting Social Security benefits at a lower rate than holding out for the higher payments youd receive at age 70.
If, however, youre single, in good health and either still working or have plenty of savings, consider waiting until age 70 in order to benefit from the higher payments.
With married couples, it could be best for the spouse who earns the most money to hold off until 70, while the spouse who makes less starts collecting at 62. This approach will ensure that when one of you passes away, the surviving spouse will receive the higher benefitsgenerally the amount their spouse would have received at age 70, even if the spouse died before that age.
For more help with retirement planning, consider contacting a Certified Financial Planner. They can help you ensure youre maximizing your Social Security benefits and answer any questions you have about your other assets.
Social Security Disability Insurance
For SSDI, the document requirements are considerably broader and the application is lengthier. Along with the usual personal data , youll need to provide extensive documentation of your medical history and treatment and file an Adult Disability Report.
The SSDI process also includes an interview, in person or by phone. Youll find detailed information in Social Securitys Adult Disability Starter Kit.
Where to file:Online, by phone or in person.
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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What Do I Need To Know About Advance Designation
You should be aware of another type of representation called .
Advance Designation allows capable adult and emancipated minors who are applying for or receiving Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Special Veterans Benefits the option to choose up to three people in advance who could serve as their representative payee, if the need arises.
In the event that you can no longer manage your benefits, you and your family will have peace of mind knowing that someone you trust may be appointed to manage your benefits for you. If you need a representative payee to assist with the management of your benefits, we will first consider your advance designees. We must still fully evaluate them and determine their suitability at that time.
You can submit and update your advance designation request when you apply for benefits or after you are already receiving benefits. You may do so through your personal account, contacting us by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 , or at .
The Disability Application Process
Whether you apply online, by phone, or in person, the disability benefits application process follows these general steps:
- You gather the information and documents you need to apply. We recommend you print and review the . It will help you gather the information and documents you need to complete the application.
- You complete and submit your application.
- We review your application to make sure you meet our for disability benefits.
- We confirm you worked enough years to qualify.
- We evaluate any current work activities.
- We process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
- This state agency makes the disability determination decision.
To learn more about who decides if you have a disability, read our publication .
Once You’ve Applied
Once we receive your application, well review it and contact you if we have questions. We might request additional documents from you before we can proceed.
Look For Our Response
When the state agency makes a determination on your case, youll receive a letter in the mail with our decision. If you included information about other family members when you applied, well let you know if they may be able to receive benefits on your record.
Check The Status
You can check the status of your application online using your personal mySocial Security account. If you are unable to check your status online, you can call us 1-800-772-1213 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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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.
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance
There is no set list of approved disabilities, but the Social Security Blue Book, also known as Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, is an online directory of physical and mental health conditions that automatically qualify if you meet the stringent requirements for diagnosis. For adults, they are broadly split into 14 categories.
- Blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, thrombosis and hemophilia
- Cancer, including Leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, breast cancer and prostate cancer
- Cardiovascular illnesses, such as congenital heart disease and heart failure
- Cognitive andmental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, dementia, depression and intellectual disabilities
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems, such as non-mosaic Down syndrome
- Digestive system illnesses, such as bowel or liver disease
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
- Genitourinary disorders like chronic kidney disease
- Immune system diseases like HIV, inflammatory arthritis and lupus
- Musculoskeletal issues that are congenital or acquired, such as spinal disorders or amputations
- Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries
- Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Special sense and speech disorders, such as impaired hearing, sight and speech
- Skin disorders, such as burns, dermatitis and ichthyosis
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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 people pay Social Security payroll taxes. The higher their earnings , the higher their benefit.
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 2021 replace about half of their prior earnings. But benefits for a high earner replace about 30 percent 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.
Information You Need To Apply
Before applying, be ready to provide information about yourself, your medical condition, and your work. We recommend you print and review the . It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application.
Information About You
- Your date and place of birth and Social Security number.
- The name, Social Security number, and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death .
- Names and dates of birth of children not yet 18 years of age.
- Your bank or other and the account number.
Information About Your Medical Condition
- Name, address, and phone number of someone we can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your application.
- Detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries, or conditions:
- Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
- Names of medicines, the amount you are taking, and who prescribed them.
- Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who ordered them.
Information About Your Work:
- Award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements, or other .
We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns, and medical documents, but we must see the originals of most other documents, such as your birth certificate.
Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.
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Report The Death Of A Social Security Or Medicare Beneficiary
You must report the death of a family member receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security Administration processes death reports for both. Find out how you can report a death and how to cancel benefit payments. In addition to canceling SSA and Medicare benefits, find out what other benefits and accounts you should cancel.
Disability Benefits: How To Apply For Social Security Who Qualifies And More
Find out how to access Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in Newsweek, NBC News, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, The Daily Mail and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
The Social Security Administration issues benefits to nearly 70 million Americans a year. More than 8 million of them receive disability payments, mostly through Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.
To qualify for SSDI, you must be diagnosed with an injury or medical condition that prevents you from working for at least a year or is expected to result in death.
Another form of disability benefit is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is managed by Social Security but funded by the Treasury Department. SSI is aimed at individuals whose financial resources are below specific limits.
Applicants for either SSDI or SSI need to present considerable medical evidence to support a disability claim. The process can take a considerable amount of time and usually includes an in-person or phone interview with a Social Security representative. Here’s what you need to know to apply for Social Security disability benefits, including what is available and what conditions qualify.
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Collecting Social Security Before Or After Your Full Retirement Age
If you begin collecting Social Security at age 62 and your full retirement age is 66, the check you receive will be about one-quarter less than the amount you would have received at full retirement age. If you are the sole breadwinner in your household, your spouse could be negatively affected as well. If you begin collecting before your full retirement age, the amount of money your spouse would receive after your death decreases.
How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance
Less than half of disability applicants are accepted on their first try.
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. You can apply online, by calling 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office. Whichever route you go, you’ll want to have the extensive documentation required at the ready — including detailed information about your condition and recent employment history.
To qualify for disability you cannot already be receiving Social Security benefits and must not have been denied disability benefits in the past 60 days. When you apply, be patient: A majority of disability claims are denied at first and the appeals process can take months — or even years — to resolve.
Even getting a preliminary decision on your application takes more than five months on average, according to AARP.
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.
What Documents Do You Need To Apply For Retirement Benefits
We request different documents depending on your circumstances. You can help by being ready to provide the information and documents listed below. You can also use our Checklist For The Online Medicare, Retirement, And Spouses Application to help you gather the information you need to apply.
Documents we may ask for include:
- Your Social Security card or a record of your number.
- Your original birth certificate, a copy certified by the issuing agency, or other proof of your age.We must see the original document, or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies.
- If you were not born in the U.S., proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. We must see the original document, or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept documents if they have expired. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies.
- A copy of your U.S. military service paper if you served before 1968. A photocopy is acceptable.
- A copy of your W-2 form and/or self-employment tax return for last year. A photocopy is acceptable.
We will return all documents and photocopies unless specifically told otherwise.
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The Basics About Disability Benefits
The SSDI program pays benefits to you and certain if you are insured. This means that you worked long enough and recently enough – and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. The SSI program pays benefits to adults and children who meet our requirements for a qualifying disability and have limited income and resources.
While these two programs are different, the medical requirements are the same. If you meet the nonmedical requirements, monthly benefits are paid if you have a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.
Apply For Benefits Online
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you develop a disability. Follow these easy steps to apply online for disability:
- To start your application, go to our Apply for Benefits page, and read and agree to the Terms of Service. Click Next.
- On that page, review the Getting Ready section to make sure you have the information you need to apply.
- Select Start A New Application.
- We will ask a few questions about who is filling out the application.
- You will then sign in to your personal mySocial Security account, or you will be prompted to create one.
- Complete the application.
You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:
- Are age 18 or older.
- Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
- Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
- Have not been denied for disability in the last 60 days.
Note: If your application was recently denied, our application is a starting point to request a review of the determination we made.
You may be able to file online for SSI at the same time that you file for SSDI benefits. Once you complete the online process described above, a Social Security representative will contact you if we need additional information.
Fact #: Social Security Is Especially Beneficial For Women
Social Security is especially important for women, because they tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions. Women represent more than half of Social Security beneficiaries in their 60s and 7 in 10 beneficiaries in their 90s. In addition, women make up 96 percent of Social Security survivor beneficiaries.
What Is My Retirement Age
Americans can choose to start collecting Social Security benefits between the ages of 62 and 70. Many people want to start as soon as possible, which is understandable. After all, youve spent your career paying into Social Security, and it makes sense to take advantage of those benefits. However, just because you can start collecting at age 62 doesnt always mean its the best choice. This is because, for some people, 62 is not actually considered your full retirement age. If you were born after 1960, your full retirement age is 67. If you were born in the 1950s, your retirement age is around 66. These numbers have been adjusted over time in an effort to compensate for an increase in average life expectancy.
You need to wait until you reach your full retirement age to apply for social security if you want to receive your full benefits. However, if you wait past your full retirement age, youll generally receive a Delayed Retirement Credit that can slightly increase the amount of benefits you receive. The longer you wait after your full retirement ageup until you reach age 70the higher your benefit will likely become. You can find more detailed information on Delayed Retirement Credits on the Social Security Administrations website.
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