Nearing retirement age? Not sure when to start receiving your social security? These are common questions among Americans in their 60s. Unfortunately, due to insufficient savings, in 2014 Social Security provided 100% of the retirement income for 15% of individuals 65 and over. It’s important to understand how Social Security works and your options under the program.
Receive Benefits Earlier or Later?
In order to qualify to receive Social Security, an individual must have worked a minimum of 40 quarters (10 years). The Social Security Administration calculates an individual’s benefit amount based on average earnings over 35 years, not on the number of credits or how much an individual paid in Social Security taxes. Delaying benefits past the individual’s full retirement age, producers larger payments starting later in time. For individuals born in 1937 and prior, full retirement age is 65. For individuals born between 1938 and 1960, full retirement age ranges from 65 years 2 months up to 66 years and 10 months. Individuals born in 1960 and later have a full retirement age of 67. Basically, each year of delay past the full retirement age will increase benefits by 6%-8% up to age 70.
What Effect Does Working Have on My Benefits?
If an individual is at their full retirement age and works, he may keep all of his Social Security benefits, no matter how much he earns. However, if the individual is younger than full retirement age, there is a limit to how much he can earn. In 2015, Social Security will deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned above $15,720. If you reach full retirement age in 2015, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 for each $3 earned above $41,880.
What are the rules for married couples?
A spouse is entitled to receive up to 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit payment if that amount is higher than the Social Security benefit the individual would be eligible to receive based on their own working record. This can be beneficial for couples where one spouse had low earnings, or no earnings. Important to note, the spouse must wait until attaining full retirement age to collect 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit.
In addition, a divorced individual can receive Social Security benefits based on her ex-spouse’s work if they were married for 10 years or longer and the individual is unmarried and the individual is 62 years of age or older. The maximum benefit a person can receive through a living or ex-spouse is 50% of the ex-spouse’s benefit at his full retirement age. Of course, if the divorced person’s benefits are greater than that which would be received based on their ex-spouse, they would be entitled to receive Social Security based on their own earnings record.