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Social Security-FAQ’s

At what age can I apply for social security retirement benefits?

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You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when you are 61 and nine months. However, you will not be entitled to receive reduced retirement benefits until you reach full retirement age.

The full retirement age is 66 for people born in 1943-1954 and will gradually increase to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. If your full retirement age is 67 and you start receiving retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced by approximately 30%.

When are my benefits paid?

Social Security benefits are paid monthly, in the month following the month for which they are due. For example, you would receive your February benefit in March. The day of the month in which you receive your benefit payment typically depends on the birth date of the person on whose earnings record you receive benefits. If you receive both Social Security and SSI benefits, you will receive your Social Security payment on the third day of the month and your SSI payment will arrive on the first day of the month.

How are my benefits paid?

You can receive your benefits by mail or have them directly deposited into your bank account via electronic payments.

Do I have to pay taxes on my Social Security Benefits?

You may have to pay taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an “individual,” and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total combined income that is more than $32,000.

What happens when a beneficiary dies?

Benefits are not payable for the month of death. For example, if the person died any time in February the check received in March (which is payment for February) must be returned. It is important to inform the Social Security Administration if a person receiving Social Security benefits dies.

Can I work and still collect Social Security benefits?

You can continue to work and still get Social Security retirement benefits. Your earnings in, and after, the month you reach your full retirement age will not affect your Social Security benefits. However, if your earnings exceed certain limits for the months before you reach full retirement age, then your benefits will be reduced.

What benefits can my spouse qualify for if he/she has limited work history?

Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be able to get spouse’s retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years of age and your spouse or ex-spouse is receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefit. If you are under full retirement age and qualify on your own record, Social Security will pay you that amount first. However, if you also qualify for a higher amount as a spouse, you may get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount.

At what age does a child stop getting social security benefits?

A child’s benefits stop with the month before the child reaches age 18, unless the child is either disabled or is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. About five months before the child’s 18th birthday, the Social Security Administration will send the person receiving the child’s benefits information explaining how benefits can continue.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSDI is a federal insurance program designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed. It can be supplied either on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on whether the disability is temporary or permanent. SSDI does not depend on the income of the disabled individual receiving it. SSI is a government program that provides stipends to low income people who are either aged, blind or disabled. In order to be eligible an individual must be 65 years old or older, blind, or disabled, must be considered a legal U.S. resident, and must have income and resources with certain limitations.

What do I do if I disagree with a decision the Social Security Administration makes?

If you disagree with a decision, you have the right to ask the SSA for it to be reconsidered. You must file a written request with any Social Security office within 60 days of the date you receive the decision you are questioning. There are four levels of appeal. If you are not satisfied with the decision at one level, you may appeal to the next. The levels are:

  • Reconsideration;
  • Hearing;
  • Appeals Council review; and
  • Federal court

How do I qualify for benefits as a divorced spouse?

You can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if you:

  • Were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years;
  • Are at least age 62 years old;
  • Are unmarried; and
  • Are not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

Your former spouse must be entitled to receive his/her own retirement or disability benefit. If your former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, you can still receive a benefit if you meet the above eligibility and have been divorced from your former spouse for at least two years.

What if I want to retire but my spouse does not?

If you have been married to your spouse at least 10 years then you are entitled to Social Security benefits on your husband or wife’s work record.

If you want to stop working and you and your spouse are at full retirement age or are caring for a child who is under 16 years old, you are entitled to an amount equal to one-half of your spouse’s full retirement benefit.

In order to receive the spousal benefit, your spouse must file for Social Security retirement benefits. Your spouse can continue to work as long as he or she files for benefits and then immediately suspends them.

Once your spouse suspends his or her benefits, you can receive spousal benefits while your spouse continues to work. The insured spouse who exercises this approach must be at full retirement age, otherwise you run the risk of claiming reduced benefits.

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