WHO IS ELIGIBLE
40 credits are required to be eligible for social security benefits. A maximum of 4 credits can be obtained each year, translating to 10 years of work. In 2019, you receive one credit for each $1,360 of earnings.
Average estimated 2019 monthly Social Security benefits:
• All retired workers: $1,461
• Retired worker with an aged spouse: $2,448
WHEN TO START
You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but most experts recommend deferring the payouts until you absolutely need them. You must begin taking the benefit no later than age 70.
Every year you delay Social Security, even without working, your Social Security payments go up by 8%. This equates to a 3% real return (i.e. after-inflation) or 6.67% nominal return, guaranteed. Translation: don’t take the money out early in order to invest it! No index fund can guarantee a 6% nominal or 3% real return.
In a married couple, having the person with the higher primary insurance amount delay benefits increases the amount the couple will receive per month as long as either spouse is alive.
Under the new law, you can still voluntarily suspend benefit payments at your full retirement age in order to earn higher benefits for delaying. But during a voluntary suspension, other benefits payable on your record, such as benefits to your spouse, are also suspended. And, if you have suspended your benefits, you cannot continue receiving other benefits (such as spousal benefits) on another person’s record.
Your spouse receives 50% of your benefit. If your retirement benefit would equal less than half of your spouse’s retirement benefit, then you get the larger amount. Here’s an example: Your spouse’s retirement benefit: $1,500/month. Your own retirement benefit: $600/month. Spousal benefit: $750/month (half of your spouse’s benefit). In this case, Social Security would pay you $750, since it’s larger than your own retired worker benefit.
If your total income is more than $25,000 for an individual or $32,000 for a married couple filing jointly, you must pay income taxes on your Social Security benefits. Below those thresholds, your benefits are not taxed. That applies to spousal, survivor and disability benefits as well as retirement benefits.
The portion of your benefits subject to taxation varies with income level. You’ll be taxed on:
Up to 50 percent of your benefits if your income is $25,000 to $34,000 for an individual or $32,000 to $44,000 for a married couple filing jointly.
Up to 85 percent of your benefits if your income is more than $34,000 (individual) or $44,000 (couple).
Your survivors receive a percentage of your basic Social Security benefit — usually in a range from 75 to 100 percent each. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid each month to a family. The limit varies, but is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of your benefit rate.
You must receive your Social Security payments electronically. One of the ways you can choose to receive your benefits is through direct deposit to your account at a financial institution.
A – inpatient; B – outpatient; C – Medicare advantage plans*; D – prescription drug coverage
*People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through a private insurance company approved by Medicare to provide this coverage.
Most people get Part A when they turn 65. You qualify for it automatically if you’re eligible for Social Security. Almost every person eligible for Part A can get Part B. Part B is optional and you usually pay a monthly premium. In 2019, the standard monthly premium is $135.50. You should contact Social Security about three months before your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare. You should sign up for Medicare even if you don’t plan to retire at age 65.