Did you know that more than 90% of Social Security recipients do not maximize their benefits because they do not understand their options?
Do you have a plan in place to maximize Social Security benefits over your lifetime and the lifetime of your spouse?
Social Security remains one of the most complicated and complex topics in the financial world. People are constantly asking various questions, including how should they sign up for benefits, at what point should they start taking them, how much is their benefits and in what ways could they increase it. For many, social security could be their only form of income upon retirement, so it’s important to get the facts.
Know the Four Social Security Benefit Types
- Retirement – workers who have worked for a sufficient number of years are eligible at age 62 (partial benefits), 66-67 (full benefits), and 66-70 (full benefits plus delayed retirement credits-8% per year).
- Survivor -a surviving spouse or minor child of a qualified worker may be eligible for benefits
- Disability- an eligible worker younger than the retirement age and considered disabled under SSA guidelines.
- Family – a current or divorced spouse and minor children of an eligible worker may be entitled to receive benefits.
How to Qualify and Apply
In order to qualify for Social Security benefits, a worker must have 40 credits (generally 10 years of work) earned through Social Security covered employment or as a self-employed individual. This is an important planning consideration because in addition to qualifying for retirement benefits, the worker will also be eligible for disability benefits as well as survivors benefits if the worker becomes disabled or dies at a young age.
You will not receive any benefits unless you apply for them. The easiest way to apply is online at the Social Security Administration website (http://www.ssa.gov/). This website will answer many of your questions regarding Social Security programs and procedures. You can view your Social Security statement, estimate your benefits, and apply online to receive benefits. There are calculators, forms, and publications to assist you and answer many of your questions.
You can also get automated assistance or speak to a representative by phone or visit your local Social Security offices (call first to make an appointment). Most representatives will not take you through all of the various options, and therefore it may be prudent to obtain the services of a professional advisor.
Ways to Increase Your Benefits
There are several ways to boost your annual benefits.
- Delay receipt of benefits past full retirement age. Your retirement benefits increase 8% per year starting at age 62 to age 70.
- File to receive spousal benefits, even if divorced.
- Suspend benefits immediately after filing to earn more credit.
- If eligible for two benefits (worker and spouse), take one early and wait on the other. For instance, this allows the worker to file only for spousal benefits (at full retirement age) and wait until a later date (max age 70) to draw his own benefits and delayed retirement credits.
- Contact a professional
There are innumerable options available to individuals and their families based on factors including age, earnings, life expectancy, and taxability of benefits, to name a few. Make sure you assess all of your options and develop your optimum plan to maximize benefits prior to filing.
As always, we are here to answer your Social Security questions. Feel free to contact us at 216.524.8900 or email your Hobe & Lucas representative.