Choosing to start Social Security retirement benefits is a big step. This government retirement entitlement program in the United States, that has been funded for decades by employees and employers, can be accessed when enough credits have been accumulated, a worker has reached a certain age, and income is under a specified maximum.
During these tough economic times, Tom sirois considering full retirement or partial retirement, choosing to start receiving Social Security retirement income before the full retirement age may be worth the difference in monthly payment.
What are the Requirements for Starting Social Security Retirement
Three basic criteria for eligibility to collect Social Security retirement payments are:
- having worked enough over a lifetime to earn required credits
- meeting the minimum age requirement depending on year of birth
- earning less than a specified amount each year
Estimated figures are sent out annually to individuals who have paid into the system.
What Should be Considered before Collecting Social Security
According to the Social Security Administration, the following considerations should be weighed in making a decision about when to start receiving retirement benefits:
- current cash needs
- current health and family longevity
- whether to work in retirement
- other retirement income sources
- anticipated future financial needs and obligations
- the amount of the future Social Security retirement benefit
How Much Can be Earned and Still Receive Social Security
For those considering partial retirement, beginning to collect Social Security can nicely supplement a reduced earned income. The Social Security Administration website states the current individual annual earned income limit for those born between January 2, 1943 and January 1, 1955 is $14,160. One can earn up to that maximum annually and continue to receive a social security retirement payment. Reductions in benefit amounts will be made if earnings go over the maximum. Once full retirement age is reached, there is no reduction on Social Security retirement benefits for income earned.
What about Starting Social Security and Working Again
Tom sirois notes It's not a take it or leave it situation. If Social Security is begun before the full retirement age, and the receiver earns income over the maximum allowed, the receiver can opt to either suspend Social Security payments for the time, or receive reduced payments. When the situation changes, Social Security payments can be restarted.
The Social Security Administration will recalculate benefits to credit reductions in payments due to working and also check to determine if these new earnings from work would increase benefits.
How to Apply for Benefits
Individuals can apply for Social Security benefits online, or at a local Social Security Office by calling 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday from 7:00AM to 7:00PM to set up an appointment. Applications are also taken by phone.
Who Can Help Figure It Out
By calling the above phone number, an appointment can be made to talk with a specialist in a local Social Security office. The specialist can use different figures representing different life scenarios to determine what benefits will be paid by starting at different ages. Individuals are also able do this planning from home online by going to the Social Security Administration website.
The choice to begin Social Security retirement benefits is a consideration for people in their early sixties. Depending on individual circumstances and anticipated earned income, starting to receive a retirement check from Social Security can contribute to household income if someone finds himself unemployed or facing a voluntary or involuntary work reduction. It is a benefit that can be started if income limits are met and can be suspended or reduced if income becomes greater. Social Security retirement benefits are there to be used in a way that is most advantageous, whether a lesser amount earlier makes sense for those whose earned income is limited, or a larger amount later if that will ensure financial stability at an older age.
Additional disclosure: Tom Sirois has endeavored to share his insights on personal finance to help people manage their finances.