Around 63 million Americans currently receive money from Social Security. Some of it goes to retirees and their dependents, another chunk to disabled workers and their families, and a final portion to widows and survivors of the deceased.
Social Security can feel like a complex system, and many women have questions about how it works.
While benefits are a reflection of each person’s unique situation, here are the answers to some common questions that arise for women.
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When Am I Eligible for Benefits?
Precisely when you become eligible depends on your circumstances. As a member of the workforce, you can access Social Security after paying the tax for at least 10 years (or 40 quarters) and reaching retirement age, which is at least 62.
If you’re claiming Social Security as a current or divorced spouse, then you also need to be of retirement age.
For those who are divorced, then you need to have been married to your former spouse for at least 10 years and also be currently unmarried.
Additionally, your spousal benefits are only available if your spouse has filed for their benefit.
Widows, including divorced widows, have to be at least 60 and can’t have remarried.
For Social Security disability payments, you need be considered disabled.
According to the Social Security Administration, this means having a condition that limits your ability to participate in gainful activities, such as work.
The condition must have the potential to result in death or have the ability to last for at least 12 months continuously, impairing your ability to take part in gainful activities for the duration.
Can I Receive More Than One Benefit If I Qualify?
No. People can only receive one benefit. If you are eligible for more than one, you’ll receive whichever comes with a higher payment.
What Will I Receive If I Delay Retirement?
If you wait past your full retirement age, your benefit goes up. Precisely when and how much varies depending on your birth year, so it’s wise to check this Social Security Administration chart to see how much you’ll receive.
What Will I Receive If I Retire Early?
Early retirement means your benefit will be less than if you wait until full retirement age. It goes down by 5/9 of one percent for every month before you reach full retirement age.
For instance, if you retire at 62 when your full retirement age is 67, that’s 60 months early. This means a reduction of 30 percent.
How Much Will I Receive?
Benefits vary from one individual to the next. To see how much you may receive, use the Social Security Benefits Planner Calculator.
How Long Will I Receive Payments?
You’ll receive Social Security benefits for as long as you live. Additionally, it automatically adjusts according to inflation, so your payments usually rise over time.
Do I Pay Taxes on Social Security?
That depends: If you receive other income, including wages, interest, or dividends, then you’ll likely need to pay taxes on a portion of your Social Security.
For example, if you file as an “individual” with a combined income between $25,000 and $34,000, up to half of your benefits will be subject to tax. If you earn over $34,000, then you may need to pay taxes on up to 85 percent.
You can examine whether you’ll need to pay income taxes using the Social Security Benefits Planner.
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Looking for more retirement information? Check out these articles:
- 40 and No Retirement Account – Now What?
- Should You Really Postpone Your Retirement?
- 10 Ways Children Can Ruin Your Retirement