Direct Deposit: Its The Law
Effective March 2013, a new law went into effect requiring that all Social Security benefits be paid electronically. This means benefits due to you are directly deposited into a bank account of your choosing. The change means a quicker delivery of benefits as well as being safer and more convenient for customers.
The U.S. Treasury administers the Direct Deposit program and can answer questions for customers who call their helpline at 1-800-333-1795. For information and to sign up for the electronic delivery of funds, go to the Go Direct website at
The Treasury will also grant waivers in rare instances. To request a waiver or for more information, call 1-855-290-1545.
How to contact the Social Security Administration
TTY number: 1-800-325-0778
E-mail: Fill out a contact form located at
Do Survivor Benefits Increase After Full Retirement Age
If you are the surviving spouse who is claiming benefits based on your deceased partner’s work record, there is no benefit to waiting until after FRA to claim your benefits. You do not earn delayed retirement credits, so your benefit will not increase.
However, if you are the higher-earning spouse, delaying your claim for benefits until after FRA can result in your widow receiving more monthly income, as your widowed partner will receive the higher of the two monthly benefits you were each receiving.
What Are The Consequences Of Claiming Social Security Early
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Some people may wonder if they should start taking Social Security at age 62. After all, age 62 is the earliest age you can begin drawing on Social Security benefits, and like many, you are probably inclined to start drawing benefits as soon as you can.
Before you head to your nearest Social Security office to apply, evaluate all your options. Starting Social Security is almost a permanent decisiononce you start collecting Social Security, you can only stop benefits if you are within the first 12 months after starting. And, in that case, you will have to repay what you received before ending your collection. Your other option for pausing the collection of retirement benefits is when you are over your full retirement age, you can suspend benefitssometimes called a voluntary suspension.
Claiming early benefits has consequences if you are married, you are forever reducing the survivor benefit available to your spouse .
Another consequence of taking early Social Security is the way any additional earned income you have might affect your benefits. We cover that in the next step.
The longer you wait, the higher your check up to a certain age limit. Often, it’s best to wait as long as you can up to age 70. If you wait until age 70, you get 132% of your full amount!
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Is Your Full Retirement Age Affected By Where You Live
Your FRA is not affected by where you live. Most Social Security rules, including those that determine benefit amount and claiming age, are set by federal law. However, some states do tax Social Security benefits, so where you live can affect tax levels on your retirement income. But again, the age at which you claim benefits won’t affect your tax rate — your income is the key factor.
Social Security Phone Number
You can contact Social Security by phone by calling their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, their TTY phone number is 1-800-325-0778. You can use their automated telephone services to obtain recorded information and to conduct some business 24 hours a day. You can speak with a Social Security representative if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. You can also reach their TTY number if you call between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday. For instructions on their Automated services click here.
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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 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
How Social Security Helps Pay For Medicare
In addition to automatically enrolling you in Medicare, if you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, your Medicare Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your monthly benefit payment.
If you are not receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits yet, you will get a bill called a Notice of Medicare Premium Payment Due . Bills can be paid for by check or money order, a credit or debit card, or through online bill pay services.
In conclusion, as youre starting to think about Medicare and retirement, do some research and make sure you understand how your Social Security benefits can or will play a role.
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What We Mean By Disability
The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
We consider you to have a qualifying disability under Social Security rules if all the following are true:
- You cannot do work and engage in substantial gainful activity because of your medical condition.
- You cannot do work you did previously or adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, and investments.
You Want The Money Now
Even if you don’t need your benefits early to support yourself, you may have other reasons for wanting to take them as soon as possible. Some people, for example, are concerned that Social Security may be unable to meet all of its obligations in the future, so they might as well get theirs now. Others believe they could do better by collecting benefits and investing them, rather than leaving it in the government’s hands.
That said, you would have to be a skilled investor to beat the 6% to 8% guaranteed annual return on your money that Social Security offers to those who wait until full retirement age or later.
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Social Security Survivor Benefits
Social Security benefits may be available if you are the survivor–that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. The deceased must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.
Your survivor benefits are based on the earnings of the person who died. The amount you get is based on your age and the type of benefits you are able to receive each month you receive a percentage of the deceaseds basic Social Security benefits. The maximum survivors benefit you can get is limited to what the deceased would have received in life. Click here for additional details and examples.
Questions Regarding Social Security
If you have questions regarding Social Security, you may want to visit the Social Security Administration’s website at www.socialsecurity.gov to find your answers. If you prefer to speak to someone directly, the SSA is available to speak with callers Monday thru Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The toll-free number is 800-772-1213.
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Other Pensions Might Reduce Your Social Security Benefits
Your benefits will be affected if you have a pension from a job that didnt have Social Security taxes taken out of your paycheck. Common examples include people who worked for a public education system, railroad workers and Federal government employees hired before 1984 who are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System .
Two complicated provisions will affect your claiming strategy: the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset . The WEP reduces your own benefits by a discounted factor based on how many years you worked in jobs that did not withhold Social Security taxes. The GPO reduces your spousal and survivor benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your noncovered pension.
How Much Income From Social Security Benefits Can You Expect In Retirement
As discussed, life expectancy changes as you age. For instance, male life expectancy at birth is 76 years, but males who actually live until age 76 have a life expectancy of almost 11 years. That means the decision regarding when to claim benefits should be based in part on your life expectancy.
With that in mind, this chart is based on life expectancy at age 62 — the age at which eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits begins. In other words, the chart assumes men across all three age groups will live until age 82, and it assumes women across all three age groups will live until age 85.
Additionally, the chart is based on the average retirement benefit paid to new beneficiaries who started Social Security at age 62 in 2021. Anyone who turned 62 last year would have seen their benefit reduced by 29.17%. I have reversed that reduction to estimate the Social Security income for individuals who claim at FRA.
Similarly, anyone who turned 62 in 2021 would have received a 25.3% delayed retirement credit if they had claimed Social Security retirement benefits at age 70. I have accounted for that credit to estimate the Social Security income for individuals who claim at age 70.
Data source: Chart by Author.
The $18,984 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
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How To Appeal A Social Security Claim That Has Been Denied
Almost half of all Social Security benefit applications are denied. While the vast majority of these deal with disability benefits, sometimes retirement benefits are denied as well.
Some of the reasons why a retirement benefit application might be denied include:
- You have not accumulated enough work credits in your work life
- Your application has missing or incorrect information
- You submitted your application too early. You cant apply until about four months before you turn 62.
- You are already receiving Social Security disability benefits. Retirement and disability payments serve the same purpose to provide financial security when a person is not able to work any longer.
- If you are a surviving spouse, you do not meet the minimum age requirement or you got remarried before you turned 60.
If your benefit application is denied, you must submit an appeal within 60 days after you get a written notice from SSA. To start the appeal process, complete Form SSA-561-U2 Request for Reconsideration. Explain your reasons for seeking reconsideration and submit any additional documentation that will help you make your case to Social Security officials.
The Request for Reconsideration is the first of four possible levels of appeal for Social Security retirement benefits. It is an informal review of your application and in many instances, when new information is submitted or issues are clarified, this level of appeal can lead to a reinstatement or approval of benefits.
Claiming Social Security Benefits At The Right Time Means More Money In Your Pocket Heres A Guide To Everything From Knowing Your Full Retirement Age To Taking Social Security Spousal Benefits
When youre years away from retirement, Social Security seems straightforward: Youll leave your job, file for benefits and receive a monthly check for the rest of your life boom! But in reality, getting the most out of Social Security is anything but simple. As you near retirement, the decisions you make could have a significant impact on the amount of money you receive, and some of these choices are irrevocable. Youll need to move carefully to maximize this income stream.
Here are 12 essential details you need to know.
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Why Your Social Security Age Of Retirement Really Matters
Understanding at which age you attain full retirement age is important because this is when you qualify for 100% of your Social Security benefit. If you file before this age your benefit will be reduced. If you file after this date, your benefit may be increased.
The increases and decreases are commonly thought of as occurring on an annual basis, but they are actually calculated on a monthly basis.
Currently, the reductions are calculated as follows:
- .555% Monthly During the 36 month period prior to FRA
- .417% Monthly Greater than 36 months prior to FRA
If you file after your designated full retirement age, benefits are increased by .667% for each month you delay . These increases are referred to as delayed retirement credits by the SSA.
Its important to understand that there are differences between how the increases and reductions are applied.
If you file at any time before your full retirement age, your benefit will be calculated by these reduction amounts and immediately reduced beginning with your first check.
That is not the case for the increases.
In the SSA manual, you can see there are three triggers for adding delayed retirement credits to a retirement benefit:
To dive a little deeper into how the delayed retirement credits are added, you should read my article, The Delay of Delayed Retirement Credits.
Social Security Benefits: How Much Income Will You Get In Retirement
Social Security is a key source of income for millions of retired workers, but many Americans are misinformed about the program. For instance, among adults not currently receiving benefits, 44% have no idea how much monthly income Social Security will provide, according to Nationwide. That can lead to trouble when planning for retirement.
On average, Social Security benefits replace 40% of preretirement earnings, according to the Social Security Administration . Last year, the average monthly benefit paid to newly retired workers was $1,754. But the age at which you claim Social Security plays a big role in determining how much income benefits will provide.
Here’s what you should know.
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Bridge To Medicare At Age 65
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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Retirement Age For Those Born After 1937
|1960 or later||67 years|
The system does provide for early retirement at age 62, but also offers higher benefits for people who wait to make their claims after reaching full retirement age. For more information, see Nolo’s article Social Security Benefits: Retirement, Disability, Dependents, and Survivors.
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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 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.
Number Of Credits Needed For Disability Benefits
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test and a duration work test.
The number of credits necessary to meet the recent work test depends on your age. The rules are as follows:
- Before age 24 – You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
- Age 24 to 31 In general, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. As a general example, if you develop a disability at age 27, you would need 3 years of work out of the past 6 years .
- Age 31 or older – In general, you must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before your disability began.
The following table shows how many years of work credits you need to meet the duration of work test based on your age when your disability began. For the duration of work test, your work does not have to fall within a certain period. The table only provides an estimate of how many work credits you need. It does not cover all situations. If you are statutorily blind, you must only meet the duration of work test. When statutory blindness is involved, there is not a recent work test requirement.
NOTE: This table is an estimate only and does not cover all situations
|If you develop a disability…||Then you generally need:|
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