5 Questions Answered: Social Security Retirement Benefits

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Social Security Benefits Q+A

  1. How is my social security calculated? Social Security is calculated using your 35 highest paid earnings years and then averaged using the benefits calculation formula.  You must have worked full time for at least 10 years to qualify for any social security retirement benefit.  Currently, full retirement benefits age is between age 66 and 67 (October 2018). More adjustments by the Social Security Administration for the full benefit payment age are anticipated affecting calculations for those born after 1967.  To see what your payment may be based on your age visit:  https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/
  2. Will Social Security Be There For Me? Social Security will pay promised benefits through 2033.  After that, it will pay about 75% of benefits.  Options to raise taxes to cover this shortage or to decrease benefits after 2035 are being discussed. American workers currently employed pay for those currently receiving benefits; benefits paid into Social Security are not ‘banked’ for an individual’s future use.
  3. What is Social Security? A Retirement Plan? Social Security is considered insurance and was proposed by President Roosevelt and Congress and signed into law in 1935.  It was never intended to be enough to completely fund retirement for individuals but meant to supplement an individual’s retirement investments and savings.
  4. How do I file for Social Security Retirement Benefits? You can file by visiting an office, by calling (800) SSA-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov. You can file up to 4 months before you want payments to begin.
  5. Can My family receive benefits upon my death for certain situations? If you die your surviving spouse can be paid up to 100% of your payment if they are at least Full Retirement Age or receive a reduced amount as early as age 60.  An individual can be paid 75% of your benefits at any age if they are caring for your child under age 16.  Your unmarried child can be paid 75% of your benefits if they are under 18, under 19 and in high school or at any age if they were permanently disabled before age 22.  Your parent over age 62 can be paid your benefits if they were dependent upon you.

The continuation of Social Security Retirement benefits after 2033 continues to be a hot topic as the U.S. population ages and younger generations continue to decline in population. Fewer Social Security taxes paid into the Social Security system will continue to impact future payments. Individuals reaching full retirement age after 2035 may want to consider contributing more to their after-tax and pre-tax retirement accounts or purchasing a fixed annuity as a replacement for decreased or lost Social Security Retirement benefits.

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