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Do not declare Social Security if you cannot reply these 4 questions

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By Staff , in Social Security , at September 16, 2021

Keen to say your Social Security? I get it. You paid your Social Security taxes for many years, and now you are prepared to gather what’s owed to you. Nonetheless, submitting for Social Security advantages is not one thing to do impulsively or with out analysis. Shifting too quick can lead to earnings that is decrease than you need. It could possibly additionally take away your flexibility to handle your family’s whole Social Security earnings strategically.

Go forward and get enthusiastic about claiming Social Security quickly. But additionally give your self a couple of minutes to reply these 4 questions earlier than you file your advantages software. That approach, you may be assured that now actually is the appropriate time to say.


1. What’s my FRA?

FRA, or full retirement age, is the age you qualify to your full Social Security profit as calculated out of your wage historical past. Social Security assigns your FRA based mostly on the yr you had been born. You’ll be able to see these assignments, and discover your individual FRA beneath.

1943-1954 – 66

1955 – 66 and a couple of months

1956 – 66 and 4 months

1957 – 66 and 6 months

1958 – 66 and eight months

1959 – 66 and 10 months

1960 and later – 67

You do not have to attend till your FRA to begin receiving advantages. You’ll be able to declare Social Security as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Doing so will end in an adjustment to your full profit quantity, nonetheless. If you declare previous to FRA, your profit is diminished by as much as 30%. Declare after your FRA, and your profit is elevated by as much as 32%.


The changes, up or down, are calculated from the variety of months between your claiming date and your FRA. That is why you may see a smaller change in your profit quantity by claiming nearer to your FRA and a bigger change by claiming very early or very late.

2. Is my earnings file correct?

Your Social Security profit is calculated out of your earnings file, which comes from employer reporting. The profit components averages your highest-paid 35 years. (In case you have fewer than 35 years of wage historical past, the lacking years are included with zero earnings.)

If the info in your earnings file is incomplete or inaccurate, your common shall be skewed. That would result in a calculated profit that is lower than what you are entitled to.

Thankfully, you may simply evaluation your wage historical past on-line. Additionally, Social Security has a course of in place for correcting any errors.


To entry your earnings file, create an account at “my Social Security.” Log in and you will find numerous helpful data, together with a hyperlink to evaluation your full earnings file. What you may see there’s a record of years and the related taxed Social Security and Medicare earnings.

In case your knowledge would not look proper, collect any documentation you’ve of the proper data. Ideally, you may have a number of W-2 types, tax returns, or wage slips. In any other case, jot down contact data for the employer who paid the earnings in query, together with the dates you labored there and the way a lot you made. Then, contact Social Security and ask about correcting your file.

3. How way more can I earn by claiming later?

The later you begin receiving Social Security, the upper your profit shall be. There are formulation that drive these modifications, however you do not really want to know the mathematics to know its impression. You’ll be able to estimate your profit at any age within the my Social Security portal. Check completely different claiming ages and you may see that delaying your advantages will increase your Social Security earnings.


There’s a value to ready, nonetheless. A 3-year delay to your profit declare can increase your earnings by 20%, however it’s essential to forgo three years of earnings upfront. To place that to numbers, you possibly can enhance a $1,300 month-to-month examine to $1,560. Your upfront value can be the earnings you did not obtain by ready three years — which totals $46,800, or 36 months multiplied by $1,300.

You’ll be able to consider this trade-off when it comes to a breakeven level. On this state of affairs, how lengthy would it not take to your larger profit to make up the upfront value? If the profit is $260 larger every month, you’d cowl the $46,800 in 180 months or 15 years. That may make sense in the event you plan to reside to 90 however not in the event you count on a a lot shorter lifespan.

4. What’s my partner’s plan for Social Security?

In case you are married, the 2 of it’s best to collaborate on timing your retirement advantages claims. Your freedom to be strategic about timing rests on whether or not you each qualify for advantages by yourself wage historical past. In case you do, one among you possibly can declare early for present earnings, and the opposite might delay claiming to help future earnings.


You will have much less flexibility if one among you’ll gather spousal advantages based mostly on the opposite’s wage historical past. Often, the first earnings earner should begin receiving advantages earlier than the spousal profit is offered. (There’s an exception for these caring for a kid below the age of 16 or disabled.)

Additionally, spousal advantages are diminished when claimed earlier than FRA, however they aren’t elevated for claiming after FRA. Provided that delaying the first earnings earner’s advantages additionally delays the spousal advantages, ready previous FRA to say could also be more durable to justify. You’d delay two incomes, however solely the first earnings earner will see larger earnings later.

Managing Social Security right this moment and tomorrow

You labored for years to earn your Social Security profit. And now, you may optimize that profit in far much less time by understanding how timing impacts your earnings, verifying the accuracy of your wage historical past, and planning strategically together with your partner.


Your Social Security earnings shall be with you for the remainder of your life. A couple of simple motion objects now to get it proper shall be properly well worth the effort.

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