How To Qualify For Social Security Benefits
Now that you know what documents you will need when you apply for benefits, lets discuss what you need to do to qualify for benefits. The two biggest criteria are your age and work history. To get Social Security retirement benefits, you must have a work history and an earnings record. Think abouthow Social Security works. You must have paid Social Security taxes into the system to receive benefits when you retire. Generally, you must have worked for at least ten years to qualify for benefits. The longer you work and the more money you make while working, the higher your benefits will be.
You must be at least 62 years old to start your retirement benefits, although there are a few exceptions that allow you to start your benefits sooner. Even if you dont have enough work credits on your own, you can qualify for spousal benefits based on the work record of your spouse or former spouse. As long as your spouse receives Social Security benefits, you can receive spousal benefits upon turning 62. However, you should know that your benefits will be reduced if you start them before reaching your full retirement age.
How To Apply Online For Just Medicare
Are you within three months of turning age 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly Social Security benefits yet? You can use our online retirement application to sign up just for Medicare and wait to apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later. It takes less than 10 minutes, and there are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required.
To find out what documents and information you need to apply, go to the .
What If I Don’t Receive My Check On The Expected Date
If your check doesn’t arrive on the date listed above based on your birth date or other circumstances, the Social Security Administration says to wait three additional mailing days before calling. If you still haven’t received it, you can then call 800-772-1213 to speak with a representative.
The SSA notes that wait times to speak with a representative are shorter Wednesday through Friday and later in the day .
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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.
Social Security Disability Programs
In addition to retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration manages two programs that provide benefits to people who are disabled or blind.
- Social Security Disability Insurance Program
- SSDI supports disabled or blind individuals by providing benefits based on their workers contributions to the Social Security trust fund. Your contributions are based on your earnings or your spouses or parents earnings while in the workforce. Your dependents may also be eligible for SSDI benefits based on your earnings.
- Supplemental Security Income Program
- SSI benefits are paid out as cash assistance to people with limited incomes and resources who are elderly, blind or disabled. These benefits may also include blind or disabled children. SSI payments are a federal benefit funded by the general fund of the United States not the Social Security trust fund. Some states provide additional state supplemental benefits in addition to the federal SSI payments.
In some cases, people may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI at the same time. The Social Security Administration calls these concurrent benefits. This can happen when a disability qualifies you for Social Security Disability Benefits, but you only get a small amount of monthly SSDI benefits. This may qualify you to receive SSI benefits as well.
Comparing SSDI and SSI Programs
|Up to 85%|
Income Taxes for Other Benefit Programs
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Working May Affect Your Retirement Income Benefit
You can work and still receive Social Security retirement benefits, but the income that you earn before you reach full retirement age may affect the amount of benefit that you receive. Here’s how:
- If you’re under full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for every $2 in earnings you have above the annual limit
- In the year you reach full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for every $3 you earn over the annual limit until the month you reach full retirement age
Once you reach full retirement age, you can work and earn as much income as you want without reducing your Social Security retirement benefit. And keep in mind that if some of your benefits are withheld prior to your full retirement age, you’ll generally receive a higher monthly benefit at full retirement age, because after retirement age the SSA recalculates your benefit every year and gives you credit for those withheld earnings
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.
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What If I Take Benefits Early
If you choose to take your own Social Security benefit before your full retirement age, be aware that the benefit is permanently reduced by five-ninths of 1% for each month. If you start more than 36 months before your full retirement age, the worker benefit is further reduced by five-twelfths of 1% per month for the rest of retirement.
For example, let’s assume you stop working at age 62. If your full retirement age is 67 and you elect to start benefits at age 62, the reduced benefit calculation is based on 60 months. So, the reduction for the first 36 months is 20% and then another 10% for the remaining 24 months. Overall, your benefits would be permanently reduced by 30%.
Can I Qualify For Social Security Benefits Based On My Spouses Income
Short answer: in some cases.
Retirement benefits are based on your own earnings record. However, spousal and survivors Social Security benefits are based on your spouses earnings, whether the spouse is deceased or divorced from you.
Keep in mind that you can qualify for spousal or survivors Social Security benefits as well as your own retirement benefit but, Social Security wont let you add these amounts together. Instead, you will receive whichever benefit is larger.
When Should I Take My Social Security Retirement Benefits
Waiting to collect Social Security benefits may be beneficial if youre able to do so. While the age to receive your full retirement benefit is 66-67 , you can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62. But each month you wait to start collecting increases your eligible benefits.4
Once you reach full retirement age, youre entitled to 100% of the benefits calculated from your lifetime earnings. If you wait until age 70 to begin collecting Social Security, your retirement benefit will be 32% larger.3
However, waiting may not be the right choice for everyone. Your financial advisor will help you determine an approach that reflects your options and your personal situation. For example, they may consider:
- Varying tax rates on Social Security income
- Capital gains and IRA withdrawals
- Health issues and life expectancy in your family history
- Whether your current retirement accounts and additional sources of income will cover your essential expenses before you reach full retirement age
Also Check: Age For Social Security Retirement Benefits
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.
Get Ssa Benefits While Living Abroad
U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.
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When Should You Apply For Social Security Benefits
You can begin receiving Social Security at age 62. However, starting at that age means those benefits will be about 30 to 35 percent less each month than what you will receive if you delay benefits until you reach what the government considers your full retirement age.
Waiting past your full retirement age before you draw Social Security can also mean you will receive larger monthly benefits.
Full Retirement Age Based on Birth Year
|Year of Birth|
Social Security is designed to replace about 40 percent of employment income, on average.
However, that is not the same with every worker. Social Security will replace a higher percentage of the income of lower-income workers and a lower percentage of the income of higher-earning workers.
How And When To Apply For Social Security Benefits
- B.S., Texas A& M University
Applying for Social Security benefits is the easy part. You can apply online, by telephone or by walking into your local Social Security office. The hard part is deciding when to apply for your Social Security retirement benefits and rounding up all the documents you’ll need when you do.
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Your May Have To Pay Taxes On Social Security Benefits
Most people know that Social Security is funded by a tax on earnings, currently 6.2% for the employee . But some retirees dont realize that you may well have to pay income tax on Social Security benefits when it comes time to claim them. Benefits lost their tax-free status in 1984, and the income thresholds for triggering tax on benefits havent been increased since then.
It doesnt take a lot of income for your Social Security benefits to be taxed. Your benefits wont be taxed if your provisional income is less than $25,000 if youre single or $32,000 if youre married. If youre single and your provisional income is between $25,000 and $34,000, or married filing jointly with provisional income between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. If your provisional income is more than $34,000 on a single return or $44,000 on a joint return, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.
The Social Security Administration says about 40% of beneficiaries pay taxes on their benefits. Since the thresholds arent adjusted for inflation, the number of beneficiaries who pay taxes on Social Security benefits increases every year. The Social Security Trustees annual report estimates that taxes on Social Security will total $45.1 billion in 2022, up from $34.5 billion in 2021.
You may also have to pay state income taxes on your Social Security benefits. See our list of the 12 States That Tax Social Security Benefits.
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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When Should I Apply For Social Security When I Turn 66 In 2021
If you were born on the first or second day of the month, you meet this requirement in the month of your 62nd birthday. If you were born on any other day of the month, you do not meet this requirement until the following month. You can apply up to four months before you want your retirement benefits to start.
Documents You Will Need
Whether you apply online or in person, you will need the following information when you apply for your Social Security benefits:
- Your Social Security number
- Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for the last year you worked
- Your military discharge papers if you served in any branch of the military
If you choose to have your benefits paid through direct deposit, you will also need your bank’s name, your account number and your bank’s routing number as shown on the bottom of your checks.
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What Documents Do I Need To Apply For Social Security
If you are nearing retirement age, you might already be thinking aboutapplying for Social Security benefits. The Social Security application process is not extremely complex, but it does require some specific documentation to go along with your application. It is a good idea to go ahead and gather the required documents before you start your Social Security application. Getting your documents ready ahead of time will help the application process go more quickly and smoothly. Keep reading as we give you all the details.