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When Should You Apply for Social Security? | Retirement for Seniors
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When Should You Apply for Social Security?

Basic Facts About Social Security

 

 

 

Social Security Payment

 

 

 

Social Security Branch Offices

 

 

 

Social security was established in the United States via the Social Security Act of 1935. Since that time, the guidelines have been tweaked to accommodate our ever changing society. While Social Security also encompasses welfare, disability and unemployment programs, it is primarily thought of in regards to senior citizens. When a person reaches retirement age they are eligible to apply for Social Security as a source of income through their final years. This money is automatically withdrawn from a persons paycheck throughout their working life. The amount a person will receive in Social Security benefits will vary based on how long they have worked, their average income, and the type of job they maintained.

Benefits Paid

As of 2004, nearly $500,000,000,000 was spent on benefits by the Social Security Administration. This program that has been designed to protect people in their later years displays itself at a whopping 20.8% of the federal spending budget. In order to apply for social security benefits you need to review the guidelines. To start, the current retirement age is 65 years old. Additional benefits are available to those who are disabled or former members of the military. It is necessary to plan ahead when filing for Social Security. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration website, candidates should apply one year in advance for their benefits. The processing time for each claim is substantial. It is necessary to carefully review applicants to ensure that a person is eligible, alive and heading towards retirement from their job. You are still able to work and receive benefits as long as you are of retirement age.

How Benefit Amounts are Determined

Social security benefits are determined based on the 35 highest paid years of your working life. On average, low income retirees receive a bigger percentage of their former wages than those who fell into the high income brackets. As of 2010, $1200 was the average benefit for a retiree each month. You are also able to collect social security benefits from your deceased spouse. These are referred to as survivor benefits. Children will often receive survivor benefits in event of their parents death. If you are retired, you are eligible to get remarried and still collect survivor benefits if you remarry after the age of 60. On the flip side, a person can claim divorced spouse benefits if they were married for at least 10 years and are over the age of 62. If you are not married, you will only be able to receive your partners benefits at death if you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage and you meet such criteria.

Early Social Security Benefits

There are some cases where a person may have received a portion of their benefits earlier in life. This is common if a person has been put on disability for a period of time. In this instance, the amount of benefits that you will receive will be less in the long run because you started deducting sooner in life. On the Social Security Administration website, you will find all the necessary information to start the claims process. If you are at risk of losing your health insurance upon leaving your job, you will also want to apply for Medicare. Medicare is a form of public health insurance for people over the age of 65. An application for benefits can be filled out online or at your local social security office.

Statement of Benefits

Each year you should automatically receive a statement of benefits. If you are not receiving this during your working years, you should contact the SSA to correct the situation. Errors happen, unfortunately, and one error in human resources can equal mountains of headaches in the long run for you. A yearly report will ensure that all you are paying in enough of your wages to social security. It will also help you identify if there are any errors with your information including address, birth date, social security number and name. The smallest error can be the difference between receiving benefits and not having any to receive.

SSA Retirement Calculator and Other Tools

On the SSA website you will also find helpful tools for future planning. One of the best features is the retirement calculator. This allows you to input your expenses, earnings, investments and benefits to determine if you have enough money to retire when you plan. It will also let you know how long you can live comfortably on your income as well as identify how much additional income will be needed in your life.

The Risks Associated With Social Security Today

One of the negative effects of the long standing dismal economy is that many retirees are not able to collect their social security benefits upon retirement. Due to overspending by the Federal government, much of the money set aside for social security funds has been depleted. A SSA counselor can help you understand your risk of this being you as well as how to cope with surviving retirement without social security benefits. The annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is supplied to retirees so they will be aware of how inflation is affecting their benefits. Social security benefits do not affect other benefits from serving in the military. Benefits are not available for those who have not paid into social security. Essentially, it works as a “pay-as-you-go” system. If you did not work for at least 10 years, you will not receive any benefits upon retirement. The only chance to receive retirement benefits in that instance is if you are able to receive your spouses after death. Benefits can be received in other countries if you choose to retire outside of the United States. The SSA can help you navigate what countries allow this and how to file for benefits overseas

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