Planning for your retirement is a must if you want to achieve your financial goals and freedom during that life stage. As life expectancy increases and we enjoy a longer retirement, we are faced with the need for income streams that can be sustained for a longer term. Even with its challenges, Social Security continues to provide an important income source for millions of retirees.
When drafting your retirement strategy, you will face important financial decisions. How and when to claim your Social Security benefit will be one of them.
Here are some important considerations when evaluating your claiming strategy:
1. How are Social Security benefits calculated?
The Social Security Administration uses a formula to determine your benefit or, as the program calls it, the primary insurance amount, which is the benefit you will receive at full retirement age. The formula may change over time and is based on your earnings, years of work, and retirement age. To access the program, you first need at least 40 credits of qualifying work. Since you can earn a maximum of 4 credits for one year, this translates into roughly 10 years of qualifying work.
Once you have access to the program, the formula considers 35 years of work. Only the highest earnings will be considered, and for every year without income, a 0 will be factored into the formula.
2. What impact does age have when claiming retirement benefits?
Date of Birth
Full Retirement Age
66 + 2 months for each year, until 1960
Full retirement is the age when you will receive 100% of your acquired benefits. This age is between 66 and 67 and is determined by your date of birth, as presented above.
Deciding when to claim your Social Security benefits may be one of the most important decisions you will make when planning for retirement. Benefits can be claimed as early as at age 62, but doing so will reduce your benefit permanently. Instead, you can wait, and benefits will increase for each year you wait.
When deferring your benefits, the received amount will grow by approximately 8% for every year you wait until age 70. Delaying it gives you the option of a bigger benefit for life.
As for the claiming age, there is no simple answer and no one-size-fits-all solution. With each of us having different needs and goals, developing an optimal claiming strategy is key for a sound retirement.
3. Who can claim the benefit?
Besides you as a retired worker, there may be family members that could claim benefits on your record if they meet certain criteria:
- Your spouse may claim benefits under your record if you have been married for at least 1 year.
- The spousal benefit is not available until you have applied for your worker’s benefit.
A spouse may receive up to 50% of the worker’s benefit if claimed at their spouse’s full retirement age. If claimed prior to full retirement age, the amount will be permanently reduced.
In case of divorce (ex-spouse)
- In case of divorce, and if the marriage lasted ten years or more, an ex-spouse may be entitled to the benefit based on the contributions made by the worker.
- For this benefit, the claiming ex-spouse must be at least 62 years of age and single.
- If an ex-spouse takes this benefit, it will have no effect on the worker’s benefit.
Survivors (in case of death of worker before claiming age)
- The surviving spouse will be entitled to the full benefit at full retirement age or to a reduced benefit as early as age 60, or age 50 if the widow or widower is disabled. He or she could also be eligible if they are taking care of the deceased worker’s child who is eligible for the children’s benefit and is under age 16 or disabled.
- Single children may qualify if:
- They are younger than 18 years of age.
- They are between 18 and 19 years of age and are still attending an elementary or secondary school.
- They are older than 18 and have a disability that began before age 22.
- Parents: If, at the time of death, you provided 50% or more of your father’s or mother’s support, he or she may be entitled to survivor benefits.
4. May I receive Social Security benefits and continue working?
People may choose to continue working past their full retirement age as an additional source of income or encore career or to pursue a passion, such as a business.
Regardless of the reason, some may choose to start receiving their retirement benefit as soon as 62 while still earning income. If you have not attained full retirement age, there is an income limit that will trigger a temporary benefit reduction. The limit varies from year to year and must be taken into consideration if you plan to continue working. Once you exceed the income limit, the Social Security will deduct $1 from every $2 in excess of the limit, and these amounts may vary under certain conditions.
As soon as you reach your full retirement age, there are no limits as to what you can earn, but keep in mind you will have to continue paying Social Security for your earnings. Once your earnings are accredited, Social Security may recalculate your benefit.
Retirement is a financial goal that is better not left to chance. Planning for this life stage will increase your chances of achieving a financially sound retirement while reaching the goals for which you have been working for so long.
You are not alone in this journey; our group of experts are ready to serve you! Call our Popular One team at 787.281.7272, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or make an appointment at www.popular.com/popularone/contactenos/.