The more I talk to clients, the more I realize how little people understand the complexities of Social Security. Not too many years ago, I was in that same position myself, with little to no knowledge on how Social Security retirement benefits worked. Luckily, I had many tools at my disposal to learn more about those benefits and now hope to pass along some of those lessons to you.
Here are 5 best practices for anyone wanting to learn more about Social Security.
- Create an account on ssa.gov. The Social Security office no longer mails out paper statements to anyone under age 60, so it’s a good idea to create an online account to access your information.
- Review your earnings history. Believe it or not, there are often misreported earnings on our Social Security statements. It’s a good practice to review your earnings history and report any error to the SS office. The responsibility falls on you to prove the incorrect reporting, so gather your W2 and old tax forms as proof.
- Know your Full Retirement Age (FRA). People are often confused by this term and what it means. FRA is a technical term at the Social Security office. It has nothing to do with the age you actually stop working and retire. Instead, it is based upon the year in which you were born. This is the age that you will receive your FULL retirement benefit.
- Plan for longevity. People are living longer today and that means we have to stretch our investments and savings to cover our expense over more years. Delaying filing will increase your retirement benefit.
- Understand all your options before claiming your benefit. Maybe you are divorced, but were married for 10+ years and haven’t remarried. You may be able to claim under your ex-spouse’s benefit. Or maybe your spouse has passed away. You have the option to claim the higher of the two benefits, comparing your benefit and your spouse’s benefit. Seek advice to fully understand all your options so you can maximize your benefit.
It’s important to consider all your options before deciding when to claim Social Security. Hovis & Associates can help with strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits. Interested in learning more? Contact us today at (800) 411-0737.