Jan 29, 2019

6 Frequently Asked Social Security Questions

social security FAQs

Roughly 62 million Americans receive Social Security benefits. This number includes retirees, disabled workers, and dependents along with survivors of deceased workers. It’s estimated that 97% of the senior population receive or will receive Social Security retirement benefits. While such benefits are often modest when compared to how much money you’ll need for retirement, these benefits can be an essential part of your financial plan.

Unfortunately, understanding the limitations of these benefits can be confusing, so we’ve pulled together the most frequently asked questions on the subject. Knowing the answers can help you better prepare for a comfortable retirement by ensuring you receive the maximum allowable benefits.

Q. How soon can I apply for retirement benefits?

A. You can apply online for your retirement benefits if you are at least 61 years and nine months old, however the earliest you can receive benefits is age 62. Applications are also accepted in person at your local Social Security Administration office or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Q. How much money should I expect monthly from Social Security retirement benefits?

A. While the amount changes monthly and will depend on a variety of factors, the average estimated monthly amount is approximately $1400. Your Social Security benefits check does have limitations based upon your retirement age.

Monthly Maximum Benefit Based on Retirement Age in 2019

  • (Early Retirement) Retire at Age 62 - $2,209
  • Full Retirement Age - $2,861
  • (Late Retirement) Retire at Age 70 - $3,770

To receive a personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits, create a mySocialSecurity account. Estimates assume you will request benefits beginning at age 62. The Social Security Administration’s official benefits calculator can help you determine how an early or late retirement directly impacts your benefit amount.

Q. What is Full Retirement Age?

A. Full Retirement Age is the age at which you are expected to begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits. Many people think that the Full Retirement Age is 65. It was 65 for many years, but it has increased and is now based on the year you were born. Use the Retirement Age Calculator to determine your full retirement age. If you elect to start benefits beginning at age 62, your benefits will be reduced (by as much as 30%) since you are accessing them early. If you wait until age 70, you may be eligible for an increased benefit amount.

Q. How are my benefits calculated?

A. The Social Security Administration averages your actual earnings for the 35 years in which you earned the most money and applies a formula to determine your basic benefit amount at Full Retirement Age.

Q. What determines the amount of my monthly benefit?

A. Here are a few factors that influence your monthly retirement benefit:

  • The age at which you decide to collect benefits
  • Changes in cost-of-living
  • Whether you’re a government worker with a pension
  • If you’re a recipient of a retirement or disability pension from work

For a detailed explanation of how retirement benefits are calculated, the Social Security Administration publishes an annual statistical supplement.

Q. Can I collect Social Security at 62 and still work?

A. Yes. Your benefits will be recalculated based on your Full Retirement Age. Social Security retirement benefits may increase if you continue to work past age 62 since you’ll still pay Social Security taxes on your wages.

Deciding on the best time to access your Social Security retirement benefits can be tricky. Americans must look at their complete financial situation to include retirement savings, investment accounts, physical health, as well as other household members receiving or expecting to receive benefits. Retirement calculators can assist in necessary planning, but a Financial Advisor at Hughes can provide personalized assistance with retirement planning. Contact Hughes today to learn more.