1. How big of a benefit is it really?
It would cost a 66 year old man approximately $575,000 to purchase a joint life immediate annuity that generates $2,000 per month in income with 3% cost of living increases according to a CANNEX quote I ran in 2015. Social security can be one of your largest assets and getting it right is very important.
2. What is my Full Retirement Age?
The current full retirement age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954 and it gradually increases to age 67 for people born after 1960. Your full retirement age (if born between 1955-1959) is listed on your social security statement. This is different than Medicare which starts at age 65 for everyone.
3. I used to get a social security statement but haven’t seen mine in years?
Paper social security statements used to be mailed out annually. But budget cuts have since changed that to once every 5 years to age 60 and then annually once you turn 60. If you do not want to wait for a paper statement you can set up an account online at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount. We encourage everyone to set up an online account.
4. Can I still work if I am collecting Social Security Benefits early?
Of course you can still work but you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn over $15,720 in 2015. You can earn whatever you want after you reach your full retirement age. Of course your benefits are always taxable no matter when you earn them. (Subject to income limits on how much of benefit is taxable. 0% to 85% of benefits become taxable).
5. I have a government pension; will I get any Social Security Benefits?
If you have at least 10 years of substantial earnings years accumulated you WILL receive some sort of social security benefit. This benefit will be reduced by the windfall elimination provision. You will receive a reduced social security benefit due to the fact that you did not contribute to social security and were covered by a government pension. We can help calculate your future benefit with your pension if you bring in your statement.
6. Is waiting until age 70 always the best option?
While your benefit will increase by approximately 32% by waiting until age 70 to start collecting benefits, if you live to be the average age it will not matter when you start taking benefits. You have to take into consideration your current financial situation, health status, family health history, etc. in order to decide what is best for you. Also the cost of living adjustments are based on your monthly payment and delaying benefits amplifies this benefit.
7. Can I collect my Ex-spouse’s spousal Benefit?
Yes you may as long as you had been 1) married for at least 10 years; 2) be divorced for at least two years; and 3) not currently married to another person. You may also collect with or without informing your spouse or ex-spouse. Their benefits will not be affected by you in any way.
8. Social Security is confusing- can’t you handle it all?
We can help with the planning and timing of taking benefits but we do need information from you in order to help. The best way to start with is a copy of you & your spouse’s benefit statement and also any information on prior spouses benefit amounts. Any health problems or family history of premature death should be disclosed as well as that could have a major impact on timing of benefits.