Last week, the federal government unveiled a new site, Aging.gov. The goal is to provide a “one-stop resource for healthy aging, long-term care and retirement planning information along with quick links to the government’s Medicare and Social Security websites”. We wanted to see if it delivered, so we focused on the Social Security page, which promised much for aging Americans.
We’ve said for years that when it comes to Social Security, workers and retirees need to know as much as they can about how their benefits work. It’s the only way to understand the amount of resources they will have available, determine how much to save and figure out when to claim benefits.
Along with the new website, the Social Security Administration is also now partnering with three digital financial advisory services—Betterment, Financial Engines and HelloWallet. The goal is to integrate the SSA’s data file to help consumers more accurately estimate how much they’ll receive in their expected Social Security benefit.
For many aging Americans, the timing is perfect as more are afraid they may be leaving money on the table. One of the partner companies, Financial Engines, states it has identified more than $10 billion in additional Social Security benefits for customers in the past year alone, and the median amount of additional benefits for a typical married couple has been more than $100,000. That’s quite impressive. But what if you just want to do a bit of exploring on your own, just to see for yourself what your benefits might be? Here are five things you should delve further into:
Figure out your full retirement age. For many, it’s no longer 65. It’s increasing and can easily inch up a few years, depending on a number of factors. The retirement age calculator located on aging.com can help you make that determination.
What are your Social Security qualifications? Generally speaking, it takes about ten years of work to qualify for any type of benefit.
Determine your maximum Social Security benefits. Again, it depends on the age that you retire. For someone who reaches their full retirement age in 2015, the maximum monthly benefit is $2,663.
Any idea when you can collect benefits? You can begin receiving your monthly check at 62; however, there are reasons to carefully consider your options. Collecting Social Security benefits before your full retirement age can reduce your benefit by as much as 30 percent.
Finally, if you are working longer or don’t need the money, you may want to wait to collect your monthly benefit. Waiting until you’re 70 to collect can increase your Social Security benefit by as much as 8 percent a year. That can make a big difference in your quality of life.
Want to learn more about Social Security and applying for your benefits? Contact our offices today. We stand ready to help you forge your path. Once you have a game plan and know what your options are, you are better prepared to make the decisions best suited for your needs.