Showing posts with label how to access social security information. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to access social security information. Show all posts

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Social Security Decisions are Complicated!

Many people assume that when they reach their early to mid-60's, they will simply quit their jobs, start collecting Social Security and the whole process will be fairly predictable.  In fact, this is actually what the vast majority of people do.  Sometimes it works out; sometimes people have regrets, especially when they learn that their friends are receiving a lot more money than they are.  Making the right choices about Social Security actually involves some of the most complex decisions you will make in your lifetime.

No one likes to make a costly and embarrassing mistake.  It is easy to do, however, when you consider that there are actually 2700 rules that will affect your benefits.  What are some of the decisions you need to make?  Should the breadwinner in your family collect as soon as they turn 62, wait until their full retirement age of 66 - 67, or postpone receiving their benefits until the maximum age of 70? At what age should the spouse, and ex-spouses, apply for their benefits?  Should you take the "file and suspend" option?  Do you even know what that is?

After reading several books on the subject, I realized that I would have to write dozens of articles on Social Security, and keep them updated, in order to even come close to providing the helpful information that is available in this book:  "Social Security Income Planning: The Baby Boomer's Guide to Maximize Your Retirement Benefits."  (Use this link to see the book on

This book takes you through virtually all of the different options you have and the advantages and disadvantages of each.  It also explains how to invest your investment savings in such a way that you will minimize the income taxes you will pay on your retirement income.

Make sure you read the most recent edition of this or any other retirement book that you order.  Several significant laws changed at the beginning of 2016.  For example, the File and Suspend option is no longer available to couples ... a program that substantially increased the retirement income of many couples in the past.

After looking over the different books that have been written about Social Security, I felt that this was the most comprehensive and up-to-date book I could find.  Whether you are getting ready to retire in a few years or you are decades away, this book will help you make the decisions that are right for you.

Whether you read this book, a different one, or order all the available government brochures that explain Social Security, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly research what you want to do BEFORE you stop working and start collecting.  After that, it is really too late.

Since Social Security benefits make up the largest part of the retirement plans for the majority of people, this is not an area you want to neglect.  There are many legal tricks you can use to maximize your benefits ... and the employees of the Social Security Administration are not allowed to tell you about them.  All they will do is implement your benefits when you ask them to.

You may also want to use the tabs at the top of this blog for links to hundreds of articles about where to retire in the United States or abroad, medical issues that may come up as you age, family issues and more financial planning ideas.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits for an Easier Retirement

If you are dreaming of a more financially secure retirement, there are actions that even the average person can take to dramatically increase their Social Security benefits and make their retirement years much easier.

Many Retirees Earn Low Benefits

As mentioned before in this blog, the average American receives less than $1300 a month in benefits, according to Social Security Administration records.  In addition, approximately $104 a month will be deducted from that amount for those retirees who are also on Medicare.  In 2016, the Medicare deduction could increase to about $123 a month or more for many people, despite the fact that they will not receive an increase in Social Security benefits. 

The result of this is that many individuals will receive less than $1177 a month in benefits after Medicare is deducted; and the average couple will only receive about $2354 a month.  If this is not enough to cover your expenses, there is no reason why you have to accept the average payout as inevitable.  There are definite actions you can take during your working years that can make a significant difference after retirement.

How Your Benefits are Calculated

Did you know that the Social Security Administration calculates your benefits based on your 35 highest earning working years?  If you worked less than 35 years, this means that you may have a number of years with zero income averaged into your work history.  The more years you report an income, the better off you will be in retirement.   If you have worked 35 years, but earned very little income for some of them, replacing those low earning years with more recent years of work at a higher income will also make a difference.

For the same reason, there is a definite Social Security disadvantage for self-employed people who have routinely reduced their reported income by using the maximum number of deductions.  Before you retire, you want to have reported income for as many years as possible and you want to report all your income.  In the long run, you will benefit from this decision, especially if you live a long life.

Advantages of Delaying the Age When You Collect Your Benefits

In addition, if at all possible you do not want to begin to collecting your Social Security benefits until you are at least your full retirement age of about 66 or 67, depending on your current age.  Although you are allowed to begin receiving benefits as early as age 62, you will be paid approximately 25 percent less in benefits for the remainder of your life!  If you become a widow, even your survivor's benefits will be decreased.  If you can postpone receiving your benefits until you are age 70, your benefits will increase by 8 percent for each year you postpone filing after your full retirement age.

Advantage of Continuing to Work After You Begin Collecting Your Benefits

There is another way to increase your Social Security benefits.  You may decide that you will continue to work for a few years, even after you have begun to collect your benefits.  Not only will you receive annual cost of living increases when everyone else does, you may also receive an additional increase in benefits each year because you will continue to pay into the system.  The Social Security Administration recalculates your benefits each year based on the SSI taxes you paid during the previous year. This recalculation increases what you will receive now and in the future.

There are other strategies that have helped many people maximize their benefits.  You may want to order one of the Social Security books from that will help you figure out if there are other strategies that will work for you.

Everyone should also make an appointment with their local Social Security Administration office to ask questions and get more information to help them decide which strategies make the most sense for them.  We have found most employees to be knowledgeable and helpful (although we have received a few incorrect answers on occasion).  In addition, you may want to use one of the online calculators, such as AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator, in order to estimate what your earnings would be under different scenarios.

If you are interested in learning how to maximize your finances after retirement, you may also be interested in reading these articles:

Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire
Women and Social Security
Financial Facts Affecting Baby Boomers in 2013

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This content of this blog is the property of Deborah Diane and may not be reprinted without her explicit permission.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to Access Your Social Security Information Online

Since 1999, the Social Security Administration has been mailing annual statements to all workers over the age of 25.  However, it has cost the SSA over $70 million a year to provide this information by mail.  In fact, for a while in 2011, they temporarily stopped mailing the statements; then, in 2012, they resumed mailing the statements to people over age 60 who were not yet drawing on their Social Security benefits.  All these changes have been confusing for many workers, especially those who are attempting to make retirement plans.

How to Find Your Social Security Statement Online

As of May 1, 2012, the Social Security Administration began to put everyone's Social Security benefit statement online.  Workers over the age of 18 can now see their statements simply by going online and creating an account at My Social Security.  You will need to set up an account by filling in your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number and Social Security number, and will have to answer a few security questions.

You can go to the Social Security Adminstration's website at this link:  My Social Security.

Once there, follow the instructions to create an account.  You'll see a button about halfway down the home page that says: "Sign In or Create an Account."  The information that is available is very similar to what you would see on the old paper statements.

Periodically, the site will be down for a few days while they update the statements.  If that happens to you, just try again a week or so later.

If you are looking for helpful information about Social Security, retirement planning, financial information, where to retire, common health issues and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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