Social Security Facts Every Retiree Should Know

iStock_000016219245_SmallSocial Security will comprise at least a portion of your retirement income, and possibly even a significant part of it. Yet, if you’re like most people, you may not actually know much about the program. Since the rules and regulations can be complicated, it may help to understand at least these basic facts as you continue with your retirement planning.

Social Security is intended to be an income supplement. Many people make the mistake of considering Social Security as their future retirement fund. The program was actually designed to be a supplement to retirement income only, and nothing much has changed in that regard. Make sure to plan carefully for other forms of income in retirement.

40 work credits are required before you qualify for benefits. For each year that you work and pay into the Social Security fund, you earn work credits. Most people may actually earn more than the required 40 credits before they reach retirement age, so generally there is no need to worry. But you might want to check on the number of work credits you’ve earned so far if you were ever unemployed for long periods of time during your career.

You can apply for benefits early. You don’t have to wait for your “full retirement age” in order to claim benefits. You can apply for early benefits at three months before your 62nd birthday, with checks beginning during the month following your birthday.

You can increase your monthly benefits amount. Your benefits amount isn’t actually set in stone. It’s based partially on when you file your claim. If you wait until “full retirement age” (age 65 to 67, depending upon your birth year), you will receive what is called your “full benefit amount”. You can actually go to the Social Security website, input some basic information, and discover approximately what your full benefit amount will be.

However, if you retire early (as early as age 62), your benefits can be permanently reduced. On the other hand, you can delay retirement beyond your full retirement age, and earn a larger check. Your monthly benefits amount will go up by about 8 percent for each year that you delay claiming your benefits, up until age 70.

It’s easy to claim your benefits. Any mention of interaction with a large government agency often conjures up visions of long lines and hours of frustration. On the contrary, applying for Social Security benefits is actually quite easy. You can fill out the application online, and it usually only takes about 15 minutes.

This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.