Like most people, you probably think of Social Security as a retirement benefit. And it is that, but it’s also so much more. Social Security is a source of income for disabled workers and their families, for example, and the families of deceased workers. It’s an essential part of the safety net for millions of Americans.
This article will look at maximizing your Social Security benefits in various circumstances.
1. For Retirees
If you are a retiree, you should know that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to when to start taking benefits. It depends on your circumstances. You should, however, familiarize yourself with the basic rules.
You can start receiving benefits as early as age 62 or as late as 70. If you start taking benefits before your full retirement age, you will reduce your benefits. If you wait until after your full retirement age to begin taking benefits, your benefits will be increased.
Your full retirement age is when you are eligible to receive 100% of the benefits you are entitled to. For people born between 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age is 66. For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67.
If you are still working and plan to continue working, you should know that you can earn up to $17,040 in 2020 without having your benefits reduced. If you earn more than that, $1 in benefits will be deducted for every $2 you make.
There are several strategies you can use to maximize your benefits. One is to start taking benefits at a reduced level at age 62 and then increasing them when you reach full retirement age. Another is to wait until age 70 to begin taking benefits at the highest possible level.
The best strategy for you depends on your circumstances. You should, however, consult with a financial advisor to determine the best course of action for you.
2. For Disabled Workers
If you are a disabled worker, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify, you should have worked in Social Security-covered jobs and have a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.
If you are approved for benefits, you will receive them as long as you remain disabled. You will also be automatically enrolled in Medicare after 24 months of receiving disability benefits. But if you’re under age 65, you may have to pay premiums for Medicare Part A and/or Part B.
It is also important to note that if you are approved for disability benefits, your spouse and minor children may also be eligible for benefits. Always consult with a Social Security disability lawyer to ensure that you get all the benefits to which you are entitled.
3. For the Families of Deceased Workers
Some people are unaware that if a worker dies, the surviving spouse and minor children may be eligible for survivor benefits. The surviving spouse receives the benefit if they are age 60 or older or 50 or older if disabled. The benefit is paid to the minor children if they are under age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are still attending high school full time).
The survivor benefit amount is based on the deceased worker’s benefit amount. The survivor benefit can be as much as 100% of the deceased worker’s benefit.
A divorced spouse may also be eligible for survivor benefits in some cases. The marriage must have lasted ten years or longer to qualify.
If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased worker, you should contact Social Security as soon as possible to apply for survivor benefits. You can apply online, phone, or in person at your local Social Security office.
4. For People with Limited Income and Resources
If you have a limited income and resources, you may be eligible for SSI or Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a needs-based program that benefits various people.
Your income and resources must fall below certain thresholds to qualify for SSI. The thresholds are different for individuals and couples. In 2020, the income limit for an individual was $783 per month. The resource limit is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.
If you qualify for this benefit, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income people. It covers medical expenses, such as doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions.
With these programs in place, the Social Security Administration strives to ensure that everyone can enjoy a degree of financial security in retirement. But because each person’s circumstances are unique, it’s essential to consult with an advisor to ensure that you make the most of your Social Security benefits. Always consult with a financial advisor to ensure that you get all the benefits to which you are entitled.