We all have questions about retirement and social security. Will I have enough money after I retire? When is the best time for me to start taking my benefits? How do I plan out my future? Luckily, there are answers to all of these questions. We will take you step by step through a series of hot topic questions about social security benefits and provide you with the answers and tools you will need to make the best decision possible about your future. That way, you can feel secure about your Social Security.
- What should I know before I start planning my retirement?
You should know that:
- Full retirement age is between 66 and 67 years old and your age can affect the amount of benefits you receive and when they start.
- You can start to receive social security benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70; however, monthly benefits are reduced if they are started before full retirement age.
- If you begin receiving benefits before full retirement age, continuing to work may have an effect on the benefits you receive.
- Delayed retirement credits can be added to benefits if they are started after full retirement age.
Please also note that the Social Security Administration provides a retirement estimator that can provide personalized estimated of your benefits based on age and “stop work dates” that you enter. We recommend taking a look at it before applying for benefits.
- How can I apply for retirement benefits/benefits as a spouse?
There are options to call at 1-800-772-1213 or schedule an in person appointment at the local Social Security Office, however there is now an online application that is faster and more convenient. It only takes around 15 minutes to complete and submit electronically. The qualifications for an online applicant are:
- At least 61 years and 8 months old
- Not currently getting benefits on your own record
- Want the benefits to start within 4 months of application
Note that you can still apply for benefits if you already have Medicare. If you do not have Medicare but are within 3 months of age 65, you can use this application to apply for either Medicare and retirement benefits or just Medicare. Here is a checklist with all of the documents you may need when applying for benefits provided by the SSA.
- Will I (we) have enough money?
After understanding the information and using the estimators/calculators provided by the Social Security Administration to run the numbers on how much your benefits and pension(s) will provide for you, it is likely that you will need to bridge the gap between what is provided and what is needed with personal savings. There is a general rule that can help you save enough money to retire. The rule is simple, for every dollar of annual shortfall between your projected income and expenses, it is suggested you save $15 to $20 dollars. For example, if your projected retirement lifestyle expense exceeds your social security benefits and pension(s) income by $20,000 a year, it is likely that you will need to save between $300,000 to $400,000 dollars to ensure that you will have enough money.
- When is the right time to take social security benefits?
That all depends on personal situations. There is a Retirement Age Calculator that will help you determine your full retirement age and how your monthly benefits may be affected if you begin to take benefits before your full retirement age. As per the information included with question one, there are many factors that can affect your social security benefits from the age you begin to take them and whether or not you continue to work. Depending on your financial situation or your spouse’s situation, the correct choice may be for you to begin taking benefits early. However, most people ought to take their benefits right on time–at their retirement age. By deferring until your full retirement age, you avoid deductions. This also permits one to take full advantage of reaping the maximum possible social security payments provided one’s lifespan is the average, currently 78 to 79 years old.
Feeling secure about Social Security benefits is a rarity, but it does not have to be. With the information and links above, you are well on your way to making an informed decision about when and how to begin earning Social Security benefits. If, however, you are still unsure, there is more information available at https://www.ssa.gov/. As always, here at Mazur and Associates we are readily available to help you make the best and most informed decisions about your Social Security benefits. Call us at (732) 936-1230 to set up an appointment with one of our qualified professionals