You’ve been working for a long time and it’s almost time to retire. Before retiring, it’s important to understand more about Social Security benefits and how to take advantage properly. Just like anything else, there are many moving parts, and certainly not a cookie cutter solution. We will tackle a few scenarios however, which can give you some good insights.
It’s important to look at various scenarios in your personal situation, as well as speaking with a professional when needed.
How and Why Did Social Security Benefits Begin?
Social Security benefits were signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. This was put into place in order to pool money during working years, to go towards individuals that are now retired, and no longer working. Currently, Social Security has expanded into other types, including disability payments. In essence the program is replacing part of one’s income for older workers, in order for them to retire.
How You Can Apply For Social Security
So, it’s almost quitting time for work, and time to earn that social security income. The easiest way to apply for your social security benefits is online at SSA.gov. There are online applications to fill out, or you can contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
The Social Security website does also list your local Social Security Office as an option, but wait times can be substantial depending where you live. It’s recommended to call ahead of time to reduce wait times.
When Should You Apply For Social Security Benefits?
As we mentioned in the beginning, deciding to take Social Security at certain times certainly is different for everyone, and a personal decision. You are eligible to begin earning Social Security at age 62. However, by claiming at this age, your benefits are reduced for the life of your benefits. If you wait until you are age 66 (if born from 1943 to 1954), then you will get a larger amount of benefits based on your work history.
If you were born after 1954, your full Retirement Age for Social Security purposes is between 66 and 67. If you do not take any benefits at any of those ages, your Social Security does continue to increase until age 70. At this age, this is the maximum amount that your Social Security benefits will increase.
Basically, if you take it sooner, you can get benefits for “more years” of your life, therefore the government will reduce the monthly benefit. The longer you wait, chances are, you will receive it for “less years”, meaning, the monthly benefit is higher.
This means that you can only take your life expectancy into account and create assumptions. Meaning, if you live much later in life, into your late 80’s or 90’s, then waiting until age 70 gives you the maximum amount of benefits. If you take your benefits earlier, and live until late 70’s, early 80’s, then there’s a chance the draw at age 62 or 66 will give you much more in lifetime benefits than waiting for 70 to start drawing.
Obviously we can’t predict how long we will live for, but health and longevity should be taken into consideration when making this decision.
Other situations should go into consideration when you make this decision. Your overall finances should be taken into account. Do you have substantial assets currently to give yourself income without the need for Social Security? For many people, their 401k or IRA assets would fit the bill for this. Your assets can fund your retirement until you decide to start taking Social Security, therefore maximizing your lifetime Social Security benefits.
Still Working While Collecting Social Security
Another circumstance to consider is whether or not you will be working while taking your Social Security benefits. If you do work while drawing at age 62, $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $2 you earn above $18,240 (in 2020). If you begin drawing at your full retirement age; 66 or 67, depending on birth year, $1 will be deducted for every $3 you earn that is higher than $48,600. If you do wait until 70 to start withdrawing, at that age, you can work without getting anything deducted.
Just like anything else in retirement or Personal Finance, it’s important to take all scenarios into consideration. As you can see, Social Security is no different. There are different times for different people. If you do have questions, consult a broker who specializes in the senior marketplace.