What do you know about Social Security? You know that taxes are taken out of your checks, and that someday you will claim your benefits when you retire or become disabled. But for most people, that is about the extent of their knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with that; Social Security is an enormous, complicated government program, after all. But you might find the following facts helpful as you continue to plan for your future. That way, you can base your expectations upon facts.
Timing is important. You can claim Social Security benefits as early as age 62, if you need them (or prefer to retire before your full retirement age). Of course, your monthly checks will be lower if you claim benefits early.
On the other hand, you can also wait beyond your full retirement age, all the way until 70 years old. What’s the benefit in doing that? Your monthly checks will be about 76 percent higher than they would have been at age 62! Waiting that long is not an option for everyone, but it’s an important fact to know.
You might not be eligible for spousal benefits. Unless you were married at least ten years, you won’t be able to file for spousal benefits based upon an ex’s work record. In some cases, this fact matters quite a bit. If you’ve been married eight or nine years and decide to file for divorce, it might be a smart idea to hold off on finalizing it.
You are entitled to spousal benefits even if your ex-spouse dies. As long as your marriage meets the ten-year criteria, you can receive spousal benefits even if your former spouse passes away.
Your benefits are based on 35 years of earnings. Social Security will calculate your benefit amount based upon your highest-earning 35 years. If you worked less years than that, the Administration will average in a bunch of zeros.
You don’t have to fight through the SSDI process alone. You might have heard sad tales of people who have become disabled, and then had to fight tooth and nail to access their Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. That’s because most initial applications are denied, and claimants often end up hiring a lawyer to fight their way through the appeals process. But they were entitled to representation from the very first day of filing their claim. Use that representation, and it can save you some time and stress.
These facts can help you understand what to expect from various aspects of Social Security, but there is still plenty more to learn. Remember to maintain regular appointments with us, and we can help you navigate your retirement planning process.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.