Social Security Facts for 2019

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As of December 2018, more than 43.7 million retired Americans collected Social Security, with more than 8 million disabled workers collecting benefits as well. 

If you’re nearing retirement age and still have a lot of questions about Social Security, here are a few facts for you to consider:

  1. Compared to countries such as Denmark, The Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, Social Security benefits are quite modest, encompassing only about 39 percent of past earnings, though the benefits are more than those of the United Kingdom and Australia.
  2. The amount of Social Security you will ultimately receive is based on work credits that are accumulated throughout your life. In order to collect Social Security benefits, you will need to have 40 lifetime work credits, with a maximum of four credits earned per year, meaning you will need to work at least ten years in order to begin collecting benefits.
  3. Your own retirement age will vary depending on your birth year. Those born in 1954 or earlier can collect Social Security at 66 years, while those born three years later in 1957 will need to wait an additional six months before they can begin to collect benefits. If you were born in 1960 or later, your collection age begins at 67 years.
  4. Delaying benefits for a few years can increase your monthly benefit substantially, particularly if you wait until age 70 to begin to collect benefits.
  5. When it is time to apply for Social Security and Medicare, you can complete an easy online application. You can also apply for either Social Security or Medicare separately if desired.
  6. The Social Security Administration offers a variety of calculators that can help with future benefit planning, including a Retirement Age Calculator, a Retirement Estimator, a Government Pension Offset (GPO) Calculator, an Earnings Test Calculator, a Life Expectancy Calculator, and an Early or Late Retirement Calculator.
  7. Up to 85% of your Social Security income may be taxable. For married couples filing jointly, you will pay taxes on up to 50% of your Social Security income.  When you first apply for benefits, you can request that the Social Security Administration withhold federal taxes from your benefit payment.

Even if retirement is still a few years away, you can still benefit from the information and resources provided from the Social Security Administration, and knowing how much your benefit will likely be can also help you better plan your finances for when you do retire.

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