Social Security is supposed to be simple. You retire and, all-of-a-sudden, you start receiving those checks in the mail, right?
Not exactly. Decisions you make about how or when you begin to draw your Social Security benefits can impact how much can you earn while receiving your benefits.
While it’s true that those eligible for Social Security may begin to receive benefits as early as age 62, is it the best strategy? Is it better to wait until age 70 to receive the maximum benefit? Everyone’s Social Security situation is unique. The more you know about Social Security, the more likely you will be able to maximize your benefits.
Let’s start with some basic facts about Social Security.
- Social Security payments began in 1937 with just over 52,000 recipients.
- By 2018, the number of recipients grew to around 63 million with just under $1 trillion in benefits paid.
- The benefits received by today’s retirees are funded by the taxes paid by today’s workers. When those workers retire, their benefits will be paid for by the next generation of workers’ taxes.
- The Federal Old Age & Survivors Trust Fund balance stood at almost $3 trillion by the end of 2018.
- Beginning in 2035, the Trust Fund is expected to be depleted to the point that Social Security will only be able to pay out 80% of benefits, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In order to keep benefits at their current levels after 2035, Congress will need to pass legislation to address long-term funding issues. According to AARP, here are some of the reforms being considered:
- Moving the Full Retirement Age (FRA) from 67 to 70.
- Increasing the rate of Social Security payroll tax.
- Making all earnings subject to Social Security taxes. Currently, earnings over $132,900 are not taxed.
* Full Retirement Age is the rate at which a retired worker can collect 100% of their Social Security benefit. It depends on one’s birth year. The FRA for someone born in 1954 is 66. The FRA for someone born after 1960 is 67.
“Social Security is supposed to be simple. You retire and, all-of-a-sudden, you start receiving those checks in the mail, right?”
Six out of every ten non-retirees believe that the Social Security system will not be able to pay them benefits when they stop working. How is it possible to maximize benefits?
The best strategy is to be informed and make a plan. Seek the advice and counsel of experts before you make any decisions that will impact your retirement years.
A good first step is to thoroughly review your annual Social Security statement. This will provide you with your estimated benefits, earnings record, and taxes paid. This information is always available online. Just go to www.ssa.gov to set up an account or log in to your existing account.
Your statement will describe the amount of your Social Security benefit at age 62 (the first year at which you’re eligible), at your Full Retirement Age, and at age 70. Typically, recipients that begin drawing on Social Security at age 62 may expect to receive 70%-75% of the amount of their Full Retirement Age benefits. Those that delay receiving benefits until they are 70 can earn delayed retirement credits of 8% per year after Full Retirement Age.
In other words, the earlier the benefits start, the greater the reduction. The later benefits begin, the greater the increase. But, delaying your Social Security benefits is not always going to be the best choice. Factors to consider when deciding might include: expected life span, healthcare needs, the cost of waiting, the difference in your spouse’s age, and much more.
Deciding when to receive Social Security benefits is just one of many strategies to maximize Social Security. Want to learn more? Attend the Redefine Retirement seminar at the Mayerson JCC on June 11 and learn best practice advice from an expert. The program is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and refreshments will be served. The Redefine Retirement series is a partnership between Jewish Family Service, JVS Career Services, and Mayerson JCC and is sponsored by AgeWell Cincinnati.
Don’t be one of the 90% of recipients that do NOT maximize their Social Security benefits.