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When To Sign Up For Social Security Retirement Benefits

Working While Collecting Social Security Retirement

How to Apply for Social Security Benefits

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 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.

Calculate Your Life Expectancy

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:

If You Donât have a Bank or Credit Union Account:

Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:

On Go Directâs FAQ page, 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.

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Our reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most how to save for retirement, understanding the types of accounts, how to choose investments and more so you can feel confident when planning for your future.

Applying For Social Security

Everything You Need to Know About Social Security Retirement Benefits ...
  • Generally, you should apply for Social Security retirement benefits three months before you want your benefits to begin. Even if you dont plan to receive benefits right away, you should still sign up for Medicare three months before you reach age 65.
  • If you were born before 1938 and you meet all other requirements, you can receive benefits beginning with the first full month you are age 62. However, if you choose to begin receiving benefits before age 65, your benefits will be reduced to account for the longer period over which you will be paid.
  • The full retirement age is 65 for persons born before 1938. The age gradually rises until it reaches 67 for persons born in 1960 or later. Social Security benefits are payable at full retirement age for anyone with enough Social Security credits. As you work and pay taxes, you earn credits that count towards eligibility for future Social Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. Most people need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. People who delay retirement beyond full retirement age get special credit for each month they dont receive a benefit until they reach age 70.
  • To find out what your retirement age is, use the Social Security Retirement Age Chart at www.ssa.gov
  • You should speak with a Social Security representative in the year before you plan to retire. It may be to your advantage to start receiving your retirement benefits before you actually stop working.

ave questions? Call at 874-4618.

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Effect Of Delaying Retirement Benefits

1Represents Full Retirement Age based on DOB January 2, 1960

2PIA = The primary insurance amount is the basis for benefits that are paid to an individual

That higher baseline would last for the rest of your retirement and serve as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While itâs important to consider your personal circumstancesâitâs not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or canât afford to delayâthe benefits of waiting can be significant.

Be aware that if you decide to wait past age 65, you may still need to sign up for Medicare. In some circumstances your Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more if you donât sign up at age 65. If you start Social Security benefits early, youâll automatically be enrolled into Medicare Parts A and B when you turn age 65.

Your annual Social Security statement will list your projected benefits between age 62 to 70, assuming you continue to work and earn about the same amount through those ages. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one or view it online on the Social Security Administration portal.

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.

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You Can Claim Social Security Benefits Earned By Your Ex

The end of a marriage doesnt spell the end of being able to get get a Social Security benefit based on your former spouses earnings. You can still receive a benefit based on his or her record instead of a benefit based on your own work record, so long as you were married at least 10 years, you are 62 or older, and you are currently unmarried. And guess what: If youâve made multiple trips to the altar, you can pick which spouseâs benefits you want to claim, based on whatâs most beneficial to you.

Like a regular spousal benefit, you can get up to 50% of an ex-spouses benefit less if you claim before full retirement age. And the beauty of it is that your ex never needs to know because you apply for the benefit directly through the Social Security Administration. Taking a benefit on your ex-spouses record has no effect on his or her benefit or the benefit of your exs new spouse. And unlike a regular spousal benefit, if your ex qualifies for benefits but has yet to apply, you can still start collecting Social Security based on the exs record, though you must have been divorced for at least two years.

Note: Ex-spouses can also take a survivor benefit if their ex died after the divorce, and, like any survivor benefit, it will be worth up to 100% of what the ex-spouse received. If you remarry after age 60, you are still eligible for the survivor benefit.

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Watch Out For Hidden Costs

Best Time to Apply for Social Security | Social Security Retirement Benefits Explained

Youll also want to consider other lifestyle factors, especially Medicare. Americans become eligible for federal health insurance coverage at age 65, well after when you can begin to file for Social Security.

If you stop working at age 62 and lose health insurance, you have to get supplemental insurance to bridge the gap until you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in, Neiser says.

If you work during retirement, you have another incentive to delay collecting Social Security. Earning too much at a job after you begin collecting your benefit can reduce your payout, but only if you have yet to hit full retirement age.

However, when you hit full retirement age, your benefit will increase to account for any benefit that was withheld earlier due to working. Heres how much you can earn and not get hit.

If youre younger than full retirement age for all of 2022, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 of your monthly check for every $2 you earn above $19,560 per year.

If you reach full retirement age in 2022, the administration deducts $1 of your monthly check for every $3 you earn above $51,960 until the month you reach retirement age.

Youll also owe Social Security and Medicare tax on your earnings, even if youre already receiving benefits.

So those are some potential pitfalls to claiming Social Security early.

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The Bleak Future Of Social Security

Aggravated by the COVID pandemic, the Social Security trust fund most Americans rely on for their retirement will run out of money in 12 years, one year sooner than expected, according to the annual Social Security 2021 Trustees Report published on August 31, 2021. The pandemic also threatens to shrink retirement payments and increase health-care costs for older Americans, according to the Trustees.

The Treasury Department oversees two Social Security funds: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds. These funds are intended to provide a source of income to former workers who have retired at the end of their careers or to those who cannot work due to a disability, respectively.

Social Security officials said that the Old-Age and Survivors trust fund is now able to pay scheduled benefits until 2033, one year earlier than reported last year. The Disability Insurance fund is estimated to be adequately funded through 2057, eight years earlier than in the report published in 2020.

In a press briefing, senior Biden administration officials said that a COVID-related spike in deaths among retirement-age Americans in 2020 helped keep the programs costs lower than projected. They also noted, however, that the long-term effects of the COVID pandemic on the Social Security trust funds is harder to project as costs and revenues return to their extended forecasts.

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.

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What’s Full Retirement Age

Full retirement age is when you’re eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. Your full retirement age depends on your birth year: For anyone born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. For those born in 1955 through to the end of 1959 , full retirement age ranges between 66 and 2 months and 66 and 10 months. If you were born before 1955, you’ve already reached age 66 and full retirement age.

What Documents Do You Need To Apply For Retirement Benefits

Social Security Age Chart: When to Start Drawing Bene...

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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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.

If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

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. Only the agency that authorized the payment can explain why you received 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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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.

Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: Your bridge to Medicare

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