Learn About Social Security Retirement
Social Security retirement for seniors is available for all senior citizens and their policy beneficiaries. Social Security retirement benefits can assist senior citizens supplement their savings and comfortably retire at a reasonable age. Individuals are living longer and longer with each passing decade, and senior citizens run the risk of outliving their savings. Social Security retirement benefits provide seniors with a safety net that can help supplement their income if their savings accounts turn out not to be enough to sustain them.
Social Security benefits can also secure the financial stability of a surviving spouse or surviving children if the policy holder passes unexpectedly. The family would still be able to financially support themselves with the help of the Social Security retirement benefits the policy holder leaves behind. To find out more about how to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, what the qualifications are and additional information that may be helpful, continue reading the sections below.
Who is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits?
Social Security retirement benefits are available to all eligible senior citizens. Benefit eligibility is determined by the following factors:
- Social Security points
- Time worked
To qualify for social security retirement, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal U.S. resident and be between 62 and 70 years of age. When you apply is up to you, but you must fall within that age range to be eligible for retirement benefits. Social Security retirement for seniors is also dependent on income. If you continue to work after you retire, it may change your benefit allotment. You must accurately report all of your income on your Social Security retirement application to be able to receive benefits and take advantage of certain added income opportunities. Your Social Security retirement benefit eligibility is also dependent on the amount of points you accumulate on your policy while you work. You accumulate points based on the number of years you work and pay Social Security taxes. Once you have reached the appropriate age, have accumulated enough points and meet the other criteria, you may begin receiving benefits.
How can I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?
You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits through a few different methods. Those methods include:
- Online – You can apply for benefits online by creating an account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and filling out an application. Submitting a Social Security retirement benefits application online is the fastest and most efficient way of turning in your request to the SSA.
- By phone – You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits by contacting a representative by phone. Be prepared to slowly and clearly relate all of your personal information to the Social Security representative to ensure that he or she fills out your application accurately.
- In person – To apply for Social Security retirement benefits in person, you will need to locate your local benefit office. It is recommended that you make an appointment with the Social Security office and fill out an application beforehand to facilitate the process and avoid long wait times.
Be aware that applying for Social Security retirement benefits by phone or in person may result in long wait times if there are no available representatives to assist you. If you call or visit a location on a busy day, you may need to wait for an unknown amount of time before you are able to be attended. If you choose to apply for Social Security retirement benefits online, you will be able to fill out an application from the comfort of your own home and avoid any submission delays.
What documents will I need to apply?
Knowing the documents needed to apply for Social Security retirement benefits may be able to help you fill out your application faster. While filling out your Social Security retirement benefits application, you will need the following documents:
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Alien registration number
- Birth certificate
- Other tax return forms
Once you have decided how to apply for SS retirement, you can use the list above to prepare all the necessary documents and any additional information you will need to apply. Having these documents on hand for easy referenced will accelerate the application process and help ensure the accuracy of the information you submit. In addition to the documents needed to apply for retirement benefits, you will also need to provide your routing number and banking information if you wish to receive direct deposit should your request be approved. To learn more about how to prepare for the application process, the information you will need to provide and more, you can view our guide for free.
How much money can I make when receiving Social Security retirement?
While receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you are still allowed to work. However, depending on the age in which you begin receiving benefits, your wages may reduce your monthly benefit allotment. The following describes the instances in which your retirement benefits are and are not affected by the amount of money you make:
- Before full retirement age – If you begin receiving your SS retirement benefits before you are full retirement age, your retirement benefits will be reduced. Your benefit allotment will be reduced by one dollar for every two dollars you earn while working.
- At full retirement age – If you being receiving Social Security retirement benefits the year in which you turn full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by a smaller margin than when you begin receiving benefits earlier. Your SS retirement benefits will be reduced by one dollar for every three dollars you make until the month you become full retirement age.
- After full retirement age – After you reach full retirement age, your Social Security retirement benefits will no longer be reduced regardless of the amount of income you receive.
Be sure to contact the SSA the year in which you turn full retirement age to ensure that your benefits do not continue to be reduced by your wages.
What is considered declarable income for Social Security retirement purposes?
The only income that needs to be declared on your seniors Social Security retirement application is your annual gross income. You will not need to declare:
- Government assistance
To receive Social Security retirement benefits, you will only need to declare your gross income, wages from self-employment or other taxable income. Your Social Security allotment is based on the income that you pay Social Security taxes for through your employer or your taxes at the end of the year. Any additional government benefits or income that is not taxed is not taken into consideration and will not need to be declared.
How do I calculate my Social Security retirement benefits?
Your Social Security retirement benefit allotment is determined by a few factors. The most prominent factors include:
- Social Security credits
- Time worked
You can earn a maximum of four credits per year when you work and pay Social Security taxes. Those credits represent a portion of your salary that will be accumulated into your Social Security policy through the Social Security wage tax. Your Social Security retirement benefits will increase as you continue to work and add credits to your policy. The amount of credits you have accumulated when you decide to retire will determine how large or small your monthly allotment will be. Because your Social Security retirement benefits depend on the credits you earn over time, it is important to take into account how long you work and pay Social Security taxes. The length of your employment will often be a good way to estimate how many credits you have earned and how much your allotment should be based on that. Your gross income will not affect your monthly retirement benefits unless you have not yet reached full retirement age. If you decide to receive retirement benefits early, your allotment will be reduced based on your gross income until you reach full retirement age. To learn more about the factors that decide your allotment amount, you can read our extensive guide.
What are the Social Security retirement benefits I may receive?
Your Social Security retirement benefits will be a monthly cash allotment based on your specific Social Security policy. Your Social Security benefits can be used to purchase any necessity or pay for any bills, as it is a cash allotment with no restrictions. Your retirement benefits are a portion of the money you have earned throughout your working career and can be used as you see fit when you are able to access them in your retirement. These cash benefits can easily be withdrawn from your bank and be used as cash or deposited into your checking account and linked to your debit card. The only limit placed on your Social Security retirement benefits is the monthly amount, not on any of the ways in which the allotment can be used.
How do I access my Social Security benefits?
You can receive your Social Security retirement benefits in a few ways. These options include:
- Check by mail – You can receive your Social Security retirement benefit allotment by mail by electing to have a physical check sent to your home. This option is often the slowest of the three and you will need to go out of your way to deposit the check in your bank before you are able to use the funds. Your Social Security retirement benefits also run the risk of being delayed in transit or lost in the mail, which will leave you unable to access your funds the day you were intended to.
- Direct Deposit – When you apply for seniors Social Security retirement, you will have the options of setting up direct deposit. You will need to provide a routing number and your banking information on your application or in your Social Security account after you begin receiving benefits. Getting your Social Security retirement benefits through direct deposit is a much safer and convenient way of receiving your allotment on time every month.
- Direct Express Card – For those that do not possess a bank account for direct deposit, the Social Security Administration provides benefit recipients with a Direct Express Card. The Direct Express Card will be loaded with your Social Security retirement benefits every month and you can use it the same way you would a normal debit card.
What is full retirement age?
Full retirement age for Social Security retirement benefits is currently 65 years of age. Full retirement age is set to increase in the future as new generations live longer and will be taking advantage of retirement benefits for longer periods of time. Full retirement age is calculated based on life expectancy and the average age at which employees usually earn enough policy points to retire from their job. Retirement benefits will usually last for the rest of the time in which you are alive after retiring from work, and setting a full retirement age helps the SSA estimate how long they will need to provide benefits for retirement recipients. It is recommended to check full retirement age when you apply to ensure that you meet the most current age requirement. If you choose to receive Social Security retirement benefits before 65 years of age, you will receive a reduced benefit amount until you reach full retirement age. Alternatively, if you delay receiving benefits after reaching full retirement age, your benefits allotment may increase.
How far in advance can I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?
You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits as early as 62 years of age or 52 years of age if you are disabled. However, if you choose to receive retirement benefits early, you will receive a reduced portion of your benefits until you reach full retirement age. You may only apply for Social Security retirement benefits four months in advanced from the date in which you plan to begin using your benefit allotment. If you have not yet met the minimum retirement age or have yet to accumulate enough points on your Social Security policy, your request will be denied after the four month period. You must meet all aforementioned requirements before applying. If you are still working while receiving early retirement benefits, you may be able to help build up your retirement funds and continue to earn retirement points on your policy. This applies to the Social Security retirement benefits available to the primary policy holder, and any benefits available to surviving family members that may receive the Social Security benefits if the primary policy holder passes away.
What are Social Security retirement benefits for surviving spouses?
Social Security benefits for surviving spouses become available to a widow or widower after the passing of his or her spouse. However, there are some stipulations. Exceptions to this Social Security retirement benefits eligibility rule include, but are not limited to:
- Age – Social Security benefits for widow or widower will be granted after the surviving spouse turns 60 years of age at the earliest. However, the surviving spouse may receive reduced benefits until they reach full retirement age and can take full advantage of the Social Security benefits.
- Dependents – If a surviving spouse is financially responsible for the children or dependents of the deceased, they will be allowed to receive Social Security retirement benefits at any time. This is the only instance in which the age of the surviving spouse does not matter.
- Remarriage – Social Security benefits for surviving spouses will still be granted if a widow or widower remarries after turning 60 years of age. However, if a widowed individual remarries before turning at least 60 years of age, they will no longer be considered a surviving spouse under his or her previous spouse’s policy because they will be registered under the policy of the current spouse instead.
- Disability – If the surviving spouse is disabled, they will be allowed to receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as 50 years of age. Disabled spouses will receive benefits at a reduced rate until they turn full retirement age.
What are Social Security retirement benefits for surviving children?
Social Security survivors benefits for children are available for children whose parents have passed away. Although these survivors benefits are available to help financially support surviving children, there are some restrictions. Qualifications for survivor benefits for your children are as follows:
- Age – To receive Social Security benefits for surviving children, a child must be younger than 18 years of age. Young children will receive this allotment through their appointed guardian and it must be used for the overall benefit of the child.
- Relation – Survivors benefits for children depend on their relation to the deceased. If a child is not the biological child of the deceased, he or she must have been adopted before turning 18 years of age to qualify. However, under certain circumstances there may be exceptions to this rule, such as situations concerning step-children and children that have yet to be adopted at the time of the policy holder’s death but still qualify as dependents.
- Academics – A surviving child may be able to receive benefits when they are 18 years of age or older, but only if they are still attending school. Children are eligible to receive Social Security benefits for surviving children up to 19 years of age if they are still completing their high school education. This is the only exception to the age rule.
In addition, the policy holder must have accumulated at least eight Social Security credit while still alive for the policy to qualify for survivor’s benefits.
How can I become a representative payee for someone receiving benefits?
You can become a representative payee for someone receiving Social Security retirement benefits only under certain circumstances. The following are examples of acceptable situations:
- Disability – If the Social Security beneficiary is disabled and unable to handle his or her own finances, a representative payee may be elected by the disabled individual to receive and manage the benefits in his or her stead. The representative payee and the disabled individual must fill out a series of forms and turn them into the SSA when requesting Social Security benefits in order to qualify.
- Dependent – If you are responsible for dependents or surviving children that are the beneficiaries to a Social Security retirement policy, you may request to be their representative payee. You may apply to be a representative payee as the child’s legal guardian by signing a set of consent forms promising to keep the child’s best interests in mind as you handle their finances.
- Age – Social Security retirement benefits can also be managed by a representative payee if the recipient is too old or not in the right mind to manage their own finances, or can no longer take care of themselves. The responsibility of handling retirement benefits can fall to a representative payee as long as both parties sign consent forms to approve the process or if a court waves the financial responsibility or the recipient and assigns the representative payee as the primary caretaker.
Social Security representative payees are legally obligated to properly manage the beneficiary’s finances and keep track of the expenses they cover with the retirement money they receive to prove they have the recipients best interests in mind.
Should I delay my Social Security retirement benefits?
If you choose to delay your Social Security retirement benefits, you may be able to increase the amount of monthly benefits you receive in the future. However, you are not permitted to delay your benefits past 70 years of age. If you delay it beyond that, it will have no effect on your overall benefit amount and you may encounter difficulties in using your policy if you wait too long. Social Security retirement benefits can double in monthly allotment amount from the amount you receive if you decide to start accessing your benefits before your full retirement age. The advantages of delaying your retirement benefits can often be substantial, but it ultimately depends on your specific policy. If you have yet to gain the proper amount of policy credits when you reach full retirement age and must continue to work in order to reach it, you are not likely to increase your benefits substantially by waiting until you turn 70 years of age to begin receiving benefits. Delayed retirement benefits are only ever substantially if you accumulate enough points to retire early, but decide to keep working until 70 years of age to keep accumulating policy credits.