Your Guide to Social Security

What Is Social Security?

Social Security is a program created by the United States Government that is intended to help pay retired people. When you work, part of your income goes to a Social Security tax. The money from this tax is used to pay people who are retired or disabled, or the parent, spouse, or child of someone who has died.  When you retire, Social Security pays you a percentage of what you earned at your job, based on how much money you made while you were working and how long you worked. 

When Do I Qualify for Social Security?

  • You can start receiving Social Security benefits at the age of 62. 
  • However, you will receive less money if you start using benefits before you hit the current Social Security full retirement age. 
  • Right now (July of 2021), “full retirement age” is considered 67. However, it has been increasing each year. 
  • You can receive Social Security payments even if you keep working after the retirement age. 
  • If you wait to receive Social Security until you are between 68 and 70, you’ll receive slightly more money for each year that you wait. 
  • You should apply for Social Security benefits before you are 71, because the benefits do not increase after that. 

How Do I Get My Social Security Benefits?

  • You can apply for Social Security online here. You can also apply by phone (1-800-772-1213), or in person at your local Social Security office. 
  • Make sure to apply 4 months before you want your benefits to start.
  • You will need some documents when you apply, like your birth certificate and W-2 tax forms from the last year you worked. Check out this checklist for what information you’ll need to have before you apply. 
  • Note: If possible, apply for Medicare benefits 3 months before your 65th birthday. This starts the process rolling, and will help you pay less in Medicare insurance in later years. If you’re already over 65, apply for Medicare as soon as possible.

Is My Social Security at Risk?

As long as people work and pay Social Security taxes, the program will not run out of money or “go broke”. However, eventually the program is expected to pay out more money than it brings in. Therefore, payments may be lower in the future than they are now.  There are no plans to stop the Social Security program. 

Here is the full official guide to understanding Social Security benefits. Best of luck on your journey! If you need more help, give our Stellar Living Family Advisors a call and see how Senior Living can help you.