Social Security is the commonly used term for the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The original Social Security program was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 on the heels of the Great Depression.
Social Security is the foundation of economic security for millions of Americans—retirees, disabled persons, and families of retired, disabled, or deceased workers. About 169 million Americans pay Social Security taxes, and 61 million collect monthly benefits. About one family in four receives income from Social Security.
When it comes time to begin collecting social security, there are a lot of different strategies regarding how to start collecting. Once you have decided to start collecting benefits, be sure you’re getting exactly what you’re supposed to get.
Check your earnings history.
You can get your personal Social Security statement online by using my Social Security account. If you don’t yet have an account, you can easily create one at www.ssa.gov. Your online statement gives you secure and convenient access to your earnings records. It also shows estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits that you and your family may be eligible for. To set up or use your account to get your online Social Security statement, go to “Sign In or Create An Account.” Social Security will also mail paper statements to workers age 60 and older three months before their birthday if they don’t receive Social Security benefits and don’t yet have my Social Security account.
Are you getting all of your benefits?
Recently I met with a husband and wife for their annual review. The husband had retired at the age of 67 earlier in the year. Once he retired, he applied for and began receiving his Social Security benefits. His wife had been retired for several years, and she had begun taking her Social Security benefit when she was 63 years old. After confirming their benefits, something wasn’t adding up. The wife had been a homemaker most of her life and only accumulated a small benefit. What should have happened when her husband applied is she should have received an increase in her amount to account for the spousal benefit she was entitled to. This certainly wasn’t the case. I recommend they contact Social Security. Low and behold, there had been a mistake. Not only did they adjust her benefit, they also paid her a lump sum of about $20,000 in back pay!
While this is likely the exception, this oversight brings to light the fact that many retirees may not fully understand all the nuances of Social Security and may benefit from help in navigating the system. If you are thinking about starting your Social Security benefits and feel like you don’t have a solid grip on everything, feel free to contact The Retirement Planning Group for a complementary review. We’ll help ensure that you’re maximizing your benefits with Social Security, just like we do with your investment portfolio.
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