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Social Security

Thinking about Social Security?

That's good. Many Americans don't know about their social security and how it works. Social security can be complex and difficult to wrap one's head around at first. Although this guide doesn't replace speaking to a professional about income planning, it may help to answer some questions and spark the right conversation with a financial advisor.

When is the best time to start social security?

This answer differs for everyone. A person's health, longevity, cash needs, work situation during retirement and available alternative sources of income all play into how to best respond to this question. One thing is for sure, waiting until full retirement age or delaying taking social security benefits will increase the amount of monthly benefits received. Monthly benefit amounts differ based on the age at which benefits are started. Choosing when to start taking benefits can make a significant impact on the overall amount of income received. Another thing to keep in mind is the longevity of retirement. People are living longer today than ever before. If someone is going to live longer, delaying taking social security to maximize monthly benefit amounts may be a worthwhile pursuit. "If a couple is 65 today, there is a more than 50 percent chance that one of them will live to age 92."

How may one's family be able to benefit?

Through survivorship, a family may be able to benefit from the deceased's social security based on work history and/or the childrens' ages. Benefit payouts to a surviving spouse vary in amount depending on when the deceased spouse claimed benefits during their life and if they earned more than their surviving spouse. Children under the age of 18 may also be eligible for a benefit based on the work record of their deceased parent. Survivor credits are based on age, date of death and years in the workforce.

How does working while retired affect one's monthly benefit?

When full retirement age is reached, full benefits are paid out regardless of continuing work. If someone is working while retired before the full retirement age and that work increases earnings beyond the earnings limit, then that monthly benefit amount will be partially withheld until full retirement age is reached. Once full retirement age is reached, that monthly benefit amount will be recalculated and the benefit payout will increase.

What happens to benefits if one wishes to receive them before full retirement age?

The earliest someone can start to receive social security benefits for retirement is age 62. The latest is age 70. For every month prior to full retirement age, the benefit is reduced by a certain percentage. One may also see a reduction if they continued to work after they started receiving benefits.


What happens if one delays benefits?

For every month after full retirement where benefits are delayed (up to age 70) the payouts are increased by a certain percentage. Delaying benefits beyond age 70, will not result in any additional increases.

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