Social Security gets a bad rap, but in truth, it is the single largest source of income among those 65 and older. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Matthew Greenwald & Associates, Social Security is the primary source of income for 69 percent of retirees.
The media loves to present flashy headlines about Social Security, but they often get their information wrong or present an extreme example without a balanced explanation. Social Security facts are based on reliale sources, not flip comments meant to alarm viewers or readers.
In order to better serve my clients, I regularly attend trainings on issues affecting my clients. Because of my focus on elder law, one of those areas is Social Security. Here is some of what I learned at the latest update on Social Security.
When do people claim Social Security?
According to calculations from the Social Security Administration, more people claim social security at the age of 62 than at any other age. 42 percent of the men and almost half of the women claim it at 62 years of age. That is when you get the LOWEST amount you can.
Between 65 and 66 is the second most common age at which people claim these benefits.
Only 4 percent of the women and 2 percent of the men claim at 70 or older.
Why is this? Because people want to maximize their enjoyment of these benefits. As they get older, they perceive themselves as being less fit, healthy, youthful and able to enjoy the benefits.
Now, when you ask someone when they plan to retire, they say 65 or 70 or older. However, when there is an economic downturn, people lose their jobs. Unfortunately, despite age discrimination protections, the older workers are often among those most affected.
What Makes Social Security So Valuable?
PROS of Social Security:
- You cannot outlive it. You get it until you die, even if you live to 120 years or more!
- You usually get the “COLA” (cost of living adjustment for inflation).
- Your spouse can receive survivor benefits.
- Workers have forced contributions. If you are working as a W2 employee on the books, you most likely are putting money toward your benefits. Many people find their pressing obligations prevent them from investing in other retirement and savings programs but this one is there whether you like it or not, and it just might be something you’re surprised to discover you actually DO like later.
- Despite alarmist headlines, Social Security will likely be there in some form for most Baby Boomers and Gen X workers.
Downsides to Social Security
CONCERNS about social security:
- People are concerned about whether it will be there for us — especially those born after 1960 — in the current form. Time magazine did a survey as to whether people are more likely to believe they will get full social security or believe in UFOs. More people believed in UFOs.
- You have to earn $118,500 or more in 2016 to get full benefits.
- There is no COLA in 2016.
- They have raised and may continue raising the retirement age. It is currently 66 for retirees born between 1943 and 1954 and 67 for those born in 1960 or later. You can still claim early, but you will only get 70 to 75 percent of your benefits if you claim at age 62. And remember, that is the highest claiming age. Benefits do not change on an annual basis; they change on a monthly basis.
Go to www.ssa.gov to get more information about your Social Security benefits.
Your rights are spelled out under the law so it makes sense to consult with a lawyer for details. Call Andersen Law PC at 720-922-3880 for a free consult!
Article edited by Magpie Media.