Valuable Information on Social Security Benefits

You may be wondering about your Social Security options. Hopefully, this will give you a clearer picture.

When Can I Start to Receive Social Security?

You can choose to start receiving those benefits at different ages depending on your circumstances. The only difference will be the amount of the monthly benefit you will receive.

Originally a person had to be 65 to get their full retirement benefit. They could have received a reduced benefit starting at age 62. In 1983 Congress passed a law changing that. The age for the full benefit has increased.

Those born between 1943 and 1954 cannot receive the full benefit until they’re 66. It increases several months each year for those born between 1955 and 1959. People born in 1960 and later have to be 67.

Your benefit is reduced if you start it before your full retirement age. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your retirement benefit at age 62, will only be 75% of your full benefit.

There is a bonus if you decide to delay receiving benefits until after you are 66. Each year you delay, your retirement benefit increases 8% a year until you reach 70. If you decide to postpone getting Social Security till you’re 70, your benefit will be roughly 32% higher than what you would have received at age 66.

Let’s Look at Some Numbers

The monthly benefit you are entitled to is based on the money you earned during you working career.

As of February of 2016, the average full monthly retirement benefit was $1,344.70. A person who decides to take the reduced benefit at age 62 would get $1,008.50. A person who waits to receive their benefits until they’re 70 would get $1,775 monthly.

Again, these estimates are based on the average monthly benefit of $1,344.70. You may get more or less. You can call Social Security to get a better idea of how much you will receive. Their toll free phone numbers are 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). There is a tool on their website called the Retirement Earnings Test Calculator that can help you with your own personal information.

When Should You Start to Receive Benefits?

That decision is based on your own circumstances. Here are certain things you’ll want to consider.

First: Your Health. If you are healthy, it may be to your advantage to delay starting until you’re older. If your health is poor, it may be better to start receiving benefits earlier.

Second: Your Financial Situation. Will you need your Social Security benefit to cover your living expenses? If you do, you should start to receive it earlier.

Are you going to receive a monthly pension from your employer? Do you have a substantial amount in a 401k or an IRA? Do you have money set aside in savings to cover your monthly expenses? If you have any of these, it may be to your advantage to delay as long as possible before you start receiving benefits.

Third: Are You Married? Did Your Spouse Earn Substantially Less Than You? If your spouse’s earnings were far less and they are going to outlive you, it would be better to delay starting your benefit as long as possible. That way, the monthly amount will be higher.

Fourth: Do You Love Your Job? If you do, can you continue to work at it as long as possible?

As you can see, making the correct decision is important. If you are married, you need to discuss this with your spouse.

The Social Security Administration has quite a bit of helpful information about retirement benefits on their website,

The people at Social Security also are quite helpful. They can estimate for you what your monthly retirement benefit will be at different ages. Call and make an appointment. Go to their office and discuss this with them. The toll-free phone numbers, again, are 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).