Social Security Topics
Social Security and your Retirement Plan
Social Security is part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. If you’re among the 96 percent of workers covered under Social Security, you should know how the system works. You should also know how much you’ll receive from Social Security when you retire.
Topics we cover in our education courses:
• How you qualify for Social Security benefits;
• How your earnings and age can affect your benefits;
• What you should consider in deciding when to retire;
• Why you shouldn’t rely only on Social Security for all your retirement income.
This basic information on Social Security retirement benefits isn’t intended to answer all questions. For specific information about your situation, talk with a Social Security representative.
Age and Social Security
The age at which you decide to retire also affects your benefit. If you retire at age 62, the earliest possible Social Security retirement age, your benefit will be lower than if you wait. Page 4 explains this policy in more detail.
Online Social Security account
You can now easily set up a secure online my Social Security account. This allows you to access your Social Security Statement to check your earnings and get your benefit estimates. You can also use your online my Social Security account to request a replacement Social Security number card (available in some states and the District of Columbia).
If you receive benefits, you can also:
• Get your benefit verification letter;
• Change your address and phone number;
• Request a replacement Medicare card;
• Request a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season; or
• Start or change your direct deposit
You can create a my Social Security account if you’re age 18 or older, have a Social Security number, a valid U.S. mailing address, and an email address. To create an account, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You’ll need to provide some personal information to confirm your identity; you’ll be asked to choose a username and password; then you’ll be asked for your email address. You’ll need to select how you would like to receive a one-time security code — to a text-enabled cell phone or to the email address you registered — that
3 you will need to enter when you create your account. Each time you sign in with your username and password, we will send a one-time security code to your cell phone or to your email address. The security code is part of our enhanced security feature to protect your personal information. Keep in mind that your cell phone provider’s text message and data rates may apply.
Get personalized retirement benefit estimates
You can use our online Retirement Estimator to get immediate and personalized retirement benefit estimates to help you plan for your retirement. The online Retirement Estimator is a convenient and secure financial planning tool that eliminates the need to manually key in years of earnings information. The estimator will also let you create “what if” scenarios. You can, for example,
change your “stop work” dates or expected future earnings to create and compare different retirement options.
For more information, read the publication, Online Retirement Estimator (Publication No. 05-10510), or visit our website at https://www.ssa.gov/retire/estimator.html.
Full retirement age
If you were born in 1950 or earlier, you already are eligible for your full Social Security benefit. The full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954. If you were born from 1955 to 1960, the age at which full retirement benefits are payable increases gradually to age 67. The following chart lists the full retirement age by year of birth.
Age to receive full Social Security benefits
|Year of birth||Full retirement age|
|1955||66 and 2 months|
|1956||66 and 4 months|
|1957||66 and 6 months|
|1958||66 and 8 months|
|1959||66 and 10 months|
|1960 and later||67|
NOTE: Even though the full retirement age is no longer 65, you should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.
You can get Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, we’ll reduce your benefit if you retire before your full retirement age. For example, if you turn age 62 in 2017, your benefit would be about 25.8 percent lower than it would be at your full retirement age of 66 and 2 months. Some people will stop working before age 62. But if they do, the years with no earnings will probably mean a lower Social Security benefit when they retire.
If you’re getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family can also get benefits, including:
• Spouses age 62 or older;
• Spouses younger than 62, if they are taking care of a child entitled on your record who is younger than age 16 or disabled;
• Former spouses, if they are age 62 or older ;
• Children up to age 18, or up to 19 if full-time students and have not graduated from high school; and
• Disabled children, even if they are age 18 or older.
If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin getting benefits, let us know about the child. Then we’ll decide if the child is eligible for benefits.
NOTE: Children’s benefits are available only to unmarried children. Sometimes, you can be paid benefits to a disabled child who marries someone also disabled since childhood.
Spouses who never worked or have low earnings can get up to half of a retired worker’s full benefit. If you’re eligible for both your own retirement benefits and spousal benefits, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefit, you’ll get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit.
Mary Ann qualifies for a retirement benefit of $250 and a spouse’s benefit of $400. At her full retirement age, she will get her own $250 retirement benefit. We also will add $150 from her spouse’s benefit, for a total of $400. If she takes her retirement benefit before her full retirement age, we’ll reduce both amounts.
If you are at least full retirement age and qualify for your own retirement benefits and also for benefits as a spouse (or divorced spouse), you can choose to restrict your application and apply for one of the benefits and delay applying for the other until a later date.
Under a law passed in 2015, people born on or after January 2, 1954 no longer have this option. If they qualify for both their own retirement and spouse’s (or divorced spouse’s) benefits, they must apply for both benefits. This is called “deemed filing.” If you file for one benefit, you are “deemed” to file for the other one, too, even if you don’t become eligible for it until later.
If you’re receiving a pension based on work on which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, we may reduce your spouse’s benefit. More information on pensions from work not covered by Social Security.
If spouses get Social Security retirement benefits before they reach full retirement age, we reduce the benefit. The amount we reduce the benefit depends on when the person reaches full retirement age.
• If full retirement age is 65, a spouse can get 37.5 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62;
• If full retirement age is 66, a spouse can get 35 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62;
• If full retirement age is 67, a spouse can get 32.5 percent of the worker’s unreduced benefit at age 62.
The benefit increases at later ages up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. If full retirement age is other than those shown here, at age 62 the benefit will fall between 32.5 percent and 37.5 percent.
Your spouse can get full benefits, regardless of age, if taking care of a child entitled on your record. The child must be under age 16, or disabled (before age 22).
NOTE: Your current spouse can’t get spouse’s benefits until you file for retirement benefits.
Your dependent child can get benefits on your earnings record when you start your Social Security retirement benefits. They can get up to half of your full benefit. To be eligible, they must be your biological child, adopted child, or dependent stepchild. (Sometimes, your child could also be eligible for benefits on their grandparent’s earnings.)
To get benefits, your child must be:
• Younger than age 18;
• 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or 9
• 18 or older and disabled before age 22.
NOTE: Disabled children whose parents have limited income or resources may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. For more information, visit our website or call our toll-free number.
Maximum Family Benefits
If you have children eligible for Social Security, each will get up to half of your full benefit. But there’s a limit to how much money we can pay to you and your family. This limit varies between 150 and 180 percent of your own benefit payment. If the total benefits due to your spouse and children are more than this limit, we’ll reduce their benefits. Your benefit won’t be affected.
Benefits for a Divorced Spouse
Your divorced spouse can get benefits on your Social Security record if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. Your divorced spouse must be 62 or older and unmarried. The benefits he or she gets doesn’t affect the amount you or your current spouse can get. Also, your former spouse can get benefits even if you’re not retired. You both must be at least 62 and divorced at least two years.
Need to Know
How do you sign up for Social Security?
You can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213.
Information and documents you’ll need, include:
• Your Social Security number;
• Your birth certificate;
• Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year;
• Your military discharge papers if you had military service;
• Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if they’re applying for benefits;
• Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if you’re applying for children’s benefits;
• Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you (or a spouse or child applying for benefits) were not born in the United States; and
• The name of your financial institution, the routing number, and your account number for direct deposit. If you don’t have an account at a financial institution, or prefer getting your benefits on a prepaid debit card, you can get a Direct Express® card. For more information, visit www.GoDirect.org.
You must submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office.
Keep in mind the following!
If you work and get benefits at the same time
You can continue to work and still get retirement benefits. Your earnings in (or after) the month you reach your full retirement age won’t reduce your Social Security benefits. We’ll reduce your benefits, however, if your earnings exceed certain limits for the months before you reach full retirement age. (See the chart on pages 3-4 to find your full retirement age.)
Here is how it works:
If you’re younger than full retirement age, we’ll deduct $1 in benefits for each $2 you earn above the annual limit.
In the year, you reach your full retirement age, we’ll reduce your benefits $1 for every $3 you earn over an annual limit. This reduction continues until the month you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, you can keep working and we won’t reduce your Social Security benefit no matter how much you earn.
If, during the year, your earnings are higher or lower than you estimated, let us know as soon as possible so we can adjust your benefits.
A Special Monthly Rule
A special rule applies to your earnings for one year, usually your first year of retirement. Under this rule, you can get a full Social Security check for any month you earn under a certain limit, regardless of your yearly earnings.
If you want more information on how earnings affect your retirement benefit, read How Work Affects Your Benefits (Publication No. 05-10069). This pamphlet has a list of the current annual and monthly earnings limits.
Your Benefits may be Taxable
About 40 percent of people who get Social Security have to pay income taxes on their benefits.
• If you file a federal tax return as an “individual,” and your combined income* is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income* is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
• If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income* between $32,000 and $44,000. If your combined income* is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
• If you’re married and file a separate return, you’ll probably pay taxes on your benefits.
At the end of each year, we’ll mail you a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received. Use this statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if you must pay taxes on your benefits.
Although you’re not required to have Social Security withhold federal taxes, you may find it easier than paying quarterly estimated tax payments.
For more information, call the Internal Revenue Service’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-829-3676, to ask for Publication 554, Tax Guide for Seniors, and Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.
4858 E. Baseline Rd.
Mesa AZ 85206