What No One Tells You about Social Security Benefits
The system of receiving Social Security Benefits was introduced way back in 1935 when the then President, Franklin Roosevelt, signed the Social Security Act. The current regulations governing Social Security Benefits have been through various amendments since their inception. Currently, under the Social Security Benefits, four different types of benefits are paid. These include retirement benefits, disability benefits, dependents benefits and survivor's benefits.
Though you might know that your Social Security Benefits depend on your level of income and for how long you have worked, there are some facts about such benefits which you might not know. Given below are some common facts which no one tells you about your Social Security Benefits:
- The 'full retirement age' depends on the year of your birth
While you might know that receiving your Social Security Benefits are more rewarding from or after you reach your full retirement age, do you know the actual full retirement age. While most of us consider 66 to be the full retirement age, the fact is that the actual age depends on the year we are born. If you are born in 1938 or earlier, your full retirement age is 65 years. If you are born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age would be 66 years and if you are born after 1960, the full retirement age is actually 67 years. Did you know this?
- Getting benefits after divorce
If you are divorced from your spouse and want to lay a claim to spousal benefits of your ex-spouse, you have to fulfill three important criteria. One, you should remain unmarried for claiming the benefit. Two, your marriage should have lasted for at least 10 years. Three, your spouse should be retired or disabled. However, if you and your spouse are above 62 years of age and have been divorced for more than 2 years, you can start receiving spousal benefits even if your working spouse has not opted for the same.
- The Social Security Benefits are calculated on your average 35-year income
Though the computation of Social Security Benefits varies as per different situations, one thing is constant. The number of years taken for your aggregate earnings is 35 years. If you have worked for more than 35 years, the highest earning years are considered in the calculation. However, if you have worked for less than 35 years, 'zero' value is taken for such years when your income was nil. This, therefore, reduces the value of the benefits you can receive.
- The difference between spousal and survivor benefits
You get spousal benefits being married or being divorced. In either case, your spouse should be alive. However, if your spouse dies, you get survivor benefits. Spousal benefit is 50% of the Social Security Benefit which your spouse is entitled too while survivor benefit is 100% of that amount. When claiming either benefit, you can get only one– either yours or your spouse's. In case of spousal benefit, if your benefit is more than 50% of your spouse's benefit, you would get the higher amount, i.e. your benefit. The same holds true in the opposite scenario where you would get your spousal benefit. In short, when claiming spousal benefits, you can claim only one benefit and let go of the other. In survivor benefit, though, you can collect your survivor benefit and let your own benefit to grow. If you collect your own benefit after 70 years, you can avail of higher payments.
- Spousal and survivor benefits do not increase after the full retirement age
Though you can increase your Social Security Benefit if you delay receiving it post your full retirement age, no increment is available in case of spousal or survivor benefit.
Did you know these things about Social Security Benefits? I bet you didn't. Wise men say that knowledge is power and they are not wrong. You should learn the nitty-gritties of Social Security Benefits too so that you can avail the maximum possible benefits.