Social Security was originally intended to provide older Americans with continuing income after retirement. As people approach retirement, they generally have questions about Social Security and the benefit it provides.
Your retirement benefit is based on your average earnings over your working career. Your age at the time you start receiving benefits also affects your benefit amount. You can retire early at age 62, but the longer you wait (up to age 70), the higher your retirement benefit.
You can check your earnings record and get an estimate of your future Social Security benefits by visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) website at www.ssa.gov. You can also find this information on your Social Security Statement, which the SSA mails annually about three months before your birthday.
Retiring at full retirement age
If you retire at full retirement age, you’ll receive your full retirement benefit. Your full retirement age depends on the year in which you were born.
|IF YOU WERE BORN IN:||YOUR FULL RETIREMENT AGE IS:|
|1937 or earlier||65|
|1938||65 and 2 months|
|1939||65 and 4 months|
|1940||65 and 6 months|
|1941||65 and 8 months|
|1942||65 and 10 months|
|1955||66 and 2 months|
|1956||66 and 4 months|
|1957||66 and 6 months|
|1958||66 and 8 months|
|1959||68 and 10 months|
|1960 and later||69|
Retiring early will reduce your benefit
You can begin receiving Social Security benefits before your full retirement age, as early as age 62. However, if you retire early, your Social Security benefit will be less than if you wait until your full retirement age.
If you choose to draw Social Security early and continue to work, the income you earn could decrease your Social Security benefit. Once you reach full retirement age, you can work and earn as much income as you want without reducing your Social Security retirement benefit.
Retirement benefits for qualified family members
Even if your spouse has never worked outside the home, he or she may be eligible for spousal benefits based on your Social Security earnings record. Other members of your family may also be eligible. Retirement benefits are generally paid to family members who relied on your income for financial support. If you’re receiving retirement benefits, the members of your family who may be eligible for family benefits include:
- Your spouse age 62 or older, if married at least one year
- Your former spouse age 62 or older, if you were married at least 10 years
- Your spouse or former spouse at any age, if caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled
- Your children under age 18, if unmarried
- Your children under age 19, if full-time students (through grade 12) or disabled
- Your children older than 18, if severely disabled
Your eligible family members will receive a monthly benefit that is as much as 50 percent of your benefit. However, the amount that can be paid each month to a family is limited.
When do you sign up for Social Security?
You should apply for benefits two or three months before your retirement date. If you have any questions about your Social Security benefit, please give us a call and we can walk you through the process.