55+ Adults: Social Security Basics - Word&Way

55+ Adults: Social Security Basics

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14: 28)

Frank FainFrank FainHow much money will Social Security give me when I retire? At age 55 and older, the Social Security Administration will assist you in discovering that amount. Following are some Social Security basics that will help you begin calculating your SS retirement income.

How do I qualify for Social Security retirement benefits? Each quarter you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn one retirement “credit.” When you earn 40 credits you qualify for retirement benefits.

How much will my retirement benefit be? Retirement benefits are based on the amount you earn during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings results in higher Social Security benefits. Benefits are also affected by your retirement age. The older you are, until age 70, the higher the benefit.

What is the earliest I can retire and receive Social Security benefits? Age 62 is the earliest you can retire and draw Social Security benefits. The amount you will receive will be reduced 25% to 30% based on your full retirement age.

What is my full retirement age? If you were born 1943 – 1956, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born 1955 – 1959, your full retirement age is 66 and two additional months for each birth year after 1955. If you are born 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.

Do I have to start taking my Social Security benefits at my full retirement age? No, you do not have to take your Social Security benefits at your full retirement age. Some people are now working beyond their full retirement age. If you elect to continue working, your Social Security benefit will be higher when you do retire.

What is the latest age I can retire and receive top level of Social Security benefits? Age 70 is the latest you can retire and draw your highest Social Security benefits.

What is a good Social Security book? “Get What’s Yours – The REVISED Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman (Simon and Schuster, 2016).   

Frank Fain is director of educational services at The Baptist Home in Arcadia Valley, Mo.