Are you thinking about your social security benefits yet? Well, maybe you should be.
You can educate yourself and probably know more than the person you are sitting in front of at your local social security office.
We have been paying into the social security fund for decades now. Before you apply for your benefits, there is some basic items you need to now.
How much social security will I get? What is my social security retirement age? How can I assure that my social security benefit is for the maximum payout? What if I take my social security benefits before my official retirement age? Will I be taxed on my benefits?
There is a lot to understand before you apply so that you can take full advantage of your social security benefits.
In this article, I will be just be touching on a tip of this iceberg, as there is still a lot below the surface.
My goal is to help you get started and hopefully point you in the right direction for you to get the answers you are looking for before applying for your social security benefits.
So let’s get started.
What is my social security retirement age?
Your social security age is dependent on when you were born. For many years, the full (normal) retirement age has been 65 years of age.
But with legislation over the last 30 years from the US congress, this number for individuals born after 1938 or later, gradually increases over time. This gradual increase has a limit of age 67 for those born after 1959.
You can start you social security benefits between the years of 62 to 70 years of age. For every year past 62, your benefit will increase about 8% until you reach your full (normal) retirement age.
So it will pay to put off your benefit until your full retirement age. As you can see, withdrawing your benefit before your full retirement age will reduce your monthly and yearly social security benefit payout.
This chart fully illustrates how the full retirement age increases based on your year of birth.
As you can see, baby boomers (1943-1954) such as myself can retire with full benefits at the age of 66.
Getting your social security benefits too early?
Your social security benefits are calculated of the best 35 years of your active employment or your career. When you reach your full retirement age as discussed above, your can take full benefits.
However, some people elect to start taking their social security benefits at the age of 62. There could be a multitude of reason such as distrust in the government and the sovereignty of the social security fund.
If you start taking your benefits at age 62, the benefit will reduce by 6.67% for up to 3 years, then 5% per year after that. As for example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start taking your benefit at age 62, your total benefit will be reduced by 30%. This reduction will remain for the rest of your life.
For every year you delay your social security retirement benefit, your benefits will increase by 8% each year until you reach the age of 70. This increase in your benefit will be permanent.
How much will I get?
How much your benefit will be is dependent on how much money you have earned over your career. As I mentioned above, the benefit is based on the best 35 years of your active employment and how much you paid in each year.
So everyone is different.
You will need to calculate your own retirement benefits.
Taxed again? You have got to be kidding me!
Taxed again, it can happen.
Have you ever heard of “provisional income”. If you make income outside of your social security benefits, you can be taxed on a portion if not all of the benefit if your provisional income is too much.
Provisional income is a measure used by the internal revenue service to determine if part or all of your benefit will be taxed or not. There are three steps in calculating your provisional income.
- Take your gross income not including your social security benefit your are receiving.
- Add in any tax-free interest you maybe receive such as municipal bonds.
- Now add all the above to 50% of your social security benefit that you are currently getting.
As an example, lets say you gross income is $20,000 and you earned $2,000 in municipal bond interest. When you add these together, you have $22,000. Assuming you are receiving $24,000 in social security, divide that in half and add that to your $22,000. That gives you a provisional income of $34,000. Right? Right.
Now look at this chart that takes your provisional income and filing status (married or single) and it tells you how much you would pay in taxes on your benefit.
The system is broken!
The system of social security in the U.S. today is broken and the U. S. Congress needs to step up and fix it.
In the late 1930s when social security was signed in to a bill, the average life expectancy of a person was 20 years younger than it is today. This is largely due to the advancements we have made in healthcare and disease prevention.
However, this has taken a toll on the social security system as is was not designed for longer life expectancy than what they were experiencing in the late 1930s.
Today, it is said that the current social security fund will run out of money in 2034. When that happens, only about 75% of the current benefits that are being paid out will be supported by the current taxation levels.
Today, for people over 65 years of age, it is estimated that 65% of them consider social security their major source of income and 25% say that it is all of their income. This is staggering in light of how the system needs to be repaired.
This is why it is so important to save independently from social security and you should only consider what you get in a benefit as supplemental income. The earlier you start saving, the less of a burden it will be in the future.
Education is the key!
Education is the key when it comes to your future.
- Social security administration online, www.ssa.gov, is an excellent source of information to educate yourself and applying online is the best way to apply for your benefits. At this site is a wealth of information for yourself, your survivors, and about disability if that applies.
There are also great sources of information that are not government agencies.
- AARP (American Association of Rtired Persons), aarp.org.
- AMAC (Association of Mature American Citizens). amac.us.
- Nolo, which is an integration of internet legal sites and Nolo.com has become one of the Internet’s leading legal websites. Ths site has great articles and information for anyone seeks about social security.
I hope you have found this article informative and useful. It is very important when it comes to your future well-being for you and your family.
If you have any question, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP.