Social Security has been an essential income source for senior U.S. citizens for over 80 years and an important part of a senior’s finances. Sixty-five million Americans receive annual Social Security benefits. The majority of people requesting Social Security payments are retired adults.
These benefits apply to more people than simply retirees, though. Spouses, ex-spouses, disabled people, workers’ survivors, and other beneficiaries may be eligible for benefits.
Everything you have to learn about Social Security will be covered in this guide, from enrolling to deciding when to start receiving payments.
What Is Social Security?
Benefits under Social Security are determined by pre-retirement wages and are governed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Throughout your work, Social Security taxes are taken out of each paycheck.
Employers and employees each contribute 6.2 percent of salaries up to the annual taxable limit of $147,000. Self-employed people must pay 12.4%. These payroll taxes are added to the government trust fund for Social Security. That money returns to you as a monthly benefit when it’s time for you to apply for Social Security.
The Full Retirement Age for Social Security
Your date of birth determines whether you qualify for full retirement benefits. The full retirement age (FRA) for those born between 1943 and 1955 is 66. At 66 years and a certain number of months, people born between 1955 and 1959 are eligible to receive their full share of Social Security benefits. For those born in 1955, your FRA is 66 years and two months. Those born in 1960 or later must wait until they are 67 to reach their FRA.
Average Income for Seniors on Social Security
The average projected monthly Social Security benefit in 2023 following the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rise of 5.9 percent is
|Retiree Group||Average Estimated Monthly Benefit|
|All Retired Workers||$1,657|
|Aged couple, both of whom are receiving benefits||$2,753|
|Widowed mother and two children||$3,187|
|Aged widow(er) alone||$1,553|
|Disabled worker, spouse, and one or more children||$2,383|
|All disabled workers||$1,358|
Although the table above shows the typical Social Security monthly income, retirees may get higher monthly payouts. However, the demands are onerous. You must have worked for at least 35 years while earning (or exceeding) the SSA’s maximum taxable earnings each year to qualify for the highest Social Security retirement benefit. The maximum earnings for 2022 are $147,000.
Retaining and submitting Social Security claims will determine how much you’ll get in maximum benefits. The maximum benefit amount rises the longer you wait to retire. Your maximum benefit in 2022 if you retire early at age 62 would be $2,364. Your maximum benefit if you attained FRA in 2022, will be $3,345. Your maximum benefit, if you work until 70, would be $4,194.
How To File For Social Security
Prepare the necessary information and documents.
The SSA requires several specific facts and files to assess and complete your benefits application. This data, according to the SSA, consists of
- Your Social Security number
- Dates of current and previous marriages, along with marriage location(s)
- Employer names and dates of employment for the past two years
- Self-employed business specifics and income
- Bank account information (if you choose direct deposit)
- U.S. military service dates and branches
- List of eligible family members who may receive your SSA benefits; for example, your spouse or child
- The original copy of your birth certificate or other proof of age
- Proof of U.S. citizenship if you were not born in the United States
- Your W-2 tax form(s) or self-employment tax return from the previous year
- Your U.S. military service papers if you served before 1968
File For Your Social Security Claim
Create a free my Social Security account with the SSA once the necessary information and documentation have been gathered.
The quickest method is to apply online by making a Social Security account. Depending on your condition, the SSA estimates that the application will take 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
You can also call the SSA toll-free at 800-772-1213 to apply for your benefits. Call 800-325-0778 at their toll-free TTY number if you have hearing loss.
Social Security Benefits You Need To Know
Social Security Spousal Benefits
According to the SSA, benefits for spouses can equal up to 50% of the worker’s Social Security payment. Based on their spouse’s FRA, this. Remember that spousal payments will be reduced if the working spouse applies for Social Security before reaching their FRA.
Once the earning spouse applies for retirement benefits, these benefits may be claimed. You can apply for Social Security retirement as early as 62, but your benefits will be lower. The Benefits for Spouses calculator from the SSA can give a ballpark figure for the benefits that qualify.
Divorced Spouse Social Security Benefits
You might be eligible for Social Security’s divorced spouse benefits if you’re divorced. Divorced spouses of workers who receive (or are eligible to receive) Social Security benefits are paid benefits, according to Benefits.gov. Among the prerequisites are
- You must be at least 62 years old.
- You’re not currently married.
- You spent at least ten years married to your ex-spouse.
- Based on your work history, you are not eligible for a retirement payout equal to or more.
A divorced spouse’s maximum claim is equal to 50 percent of their ex-FRA spouse’s amount. This holds for both living and deceased ex-spouses.
Social Security Survivors Benefits
Depending on the deceased’s earnings, widows, widowers, and dependents of qualifying employees may be eligible for Social Security Survivors Benefits. The SSA lists the following as eligible family members:
- A widow or widower aged at least 60 years old (age 50 or older if the widow or widower is disabled),
- The surviving ex-spouse (the marriage must have been for at least 10 years),
- Any widow or widower, regardless of age, who is providing care for the deceased’s minor child or kid with a disability and who is getting child benefits.
Unmarried children can apply for survivors’ Social Security benefits in addition to spouses and ex-spouses if they are:
- Younger than 18 (or up to age 19 if they are a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school)
- Older than 18 with a disability that started before the age of 22
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program offers support to disabled people who cannot work. You must fulfill the following requirements to be eligible for disability benefits:
- You have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
- Throughout your career, you have accumulated enough Social Security “work credits.” Your annual income determines how many work credits you can earn. Your age determines how many credits you need.
Depending on your job history, certain family members may be qualified to receive SSDI payments if you do. These people can include:
- Your spouse
- A divorced spouse
- Your child
- Your adult child disabled before age 22
Benefits from social security greatly lower senior poverty. Almost all senior Americans receive Social Security benefits. Almost half of the seniors would live in poverty without Social Security benefits.
This shows how important Social Security benefits are in helping individuals retire. Hence, every individual must take advantage of the said program to ensure they’ll have something to rely on as they go into their golden years.
However, this is not the only financial aspect of retirement that seniors should be aware of as there are also other means and benefits they may be able to use on their retirement including retirement accounts, tax deduction, and senior benefits available to assist them further.