7 Things You Never Knew About Social Security

7 Things You Never Knew About Social Security

Social Security secrets
Want to know more Social Security secrets? Call SSDA USA!

Social Security is complex. As it turns out, there are many rules for Social Security that are often overlooked. This isn’t necessarily because the Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to hide things from you, but because there’s just so many rules to go through. It’s complicated, we know.

But here’s the gist:

There are certain rules for Social Security that may benefit you, even if you don’t know about them. Well, that changes today. Allow us from Social Security Disability Advocates USA to shed light on 7 Social Security secrets that could potentially help you.

1. Start-Stop-Start is a Legit Strategy

There exists a strategy called the Start-Stop-Start Strategy. It’s not for everyone, but it has its perks. Here’s how it works:

To begin the Start-Stop-Start Strategy, you begin collecting retirement benefits before you reach your full retirement age. For most people, this means taking their benefits between age 62 to age 65. Taking retirement benefits early has its determinants (such as a reduction of benefits), but it can also sometimes be advantageous. Maybe you want to use the money to travel, for example. Regardless, this is the first step.

The next step is to delay your benefits once you reach full retirement age, which for many people is somewhere from age 66 to age 67. You enjoyed the benefits of taking early retirement, but now you must pause your benefits and allow them to grow until you reach age 70, at which point your benefits will be much larger. Approximately 32% larger, in fact.

Many people don’t know about this strategy, possibly because it’s so complex and not for everyone. Consult an advocate from SSDA USA before you embark on your Start-Stop-Start journey to see if it’s right for you.

2. You Can Withdraw Your Claim

Many people don’t know this Social Security secret, but it’s true: You can withdraw your Social Security retirement benefits claim if you change your mind. This is incredibly beneficial for people who feel like they took Social Security too early and want their benefits to continue growing. There are restrictions, of course. You will have to pay back any benefits you already received. In addition, your family members and other dependents will have to pay back the benefits they received from you, as well. You will have to fill out appropriate documentation within a period of no less than a year after you start receiving benefits, and you can only withdraw a claim once in your lifetime. So, be careful and wise when you decide to withdraw your claim!

3. Divorcees Can Claim Spousal Benefits

Many people don’t know that they can claim benefits based on their spouse’s work history, and fewer know that they can do it even while divorced. A spousal benefit can be as much as 50% of your spouse’s benefit, and both people in a divorce can claim benefits on each other.

There are some stipulations, though. For example, you cannot claim a spousal benefit if you remarry. Also, if you are younger than your full retirement age, you also cannot claim a spousal benefit if you qualify for an equal or higher benefit based on your own work history. There are other requirements, too, such as the length of your marriage. Contact SSDA if you have further questions about spousal benefits.

4. Spousal and Survivor Benefits Stop Growing Eventually

While it can be beneficial to delay taking your retirement benefits for as long as you can, this is not the case with spousal and survivor benefits.

Here’s the gist:

Your retirement and spousal benefits can be taken as early as age 62. Your survivor benefits can be taken as early as age 60. However, taking any of these benefits early will result in a permanent reduction of benefits. The difference lies in when you reach full retirement age. Once you reach your full retirement age, your spousal and survivor benefits stop growing. Your retirement benefits, however, continue to get larger the longer you delay taking benefits, all the way to age 70.

This means there is no direct monetary incentive to wait after full retirement age to receive your spousal and survivor benefits. However, you could plan a strategy: you could take your spousal and survivor benefits out at full retirement age (when those benefits have reached their maximum) and hold off on taking your retirement so it can grow. It’s up to you, but if you have any questions, contact SSDA USA and we’ll be happy to help!

5. Working More Yields Higher Benefits

Yes, work as much as you can to get higher benefits! While you only need to have earned 40 Social Security work credits (about 10 years’ work), your retirement benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-earning years. This means that if you only worked the minimum 10 required years, a lot of zeroes will be averaged into the calculation, substantially lowering your benefits. Therefore, it’s usually better to steadily work than to take breaks, even if you don’t earn as much as you used to. Anything else is better than a zero!

Also, waiting to take your retirement could qualify you for delayed retirement credits. It’s worth looking into!

6. Children Can Get Benefits Too

If you care for a child that is under age 17 (or under age 19 of they are still in school), you can file for child benefits while you are also receiving your retirement benefits. Your children are entitled up to a total of 50% of your benefit split between them. This benefit is especially helpful for elderly people who have had children later in life. The added help of child benefits also helps build a nest egg for your child’s college fund!

7. Families Can Get Only So Much

Yes, children can get benefits, and so can many other members of your family. But how much can they get?

Here’s the scoop:

While dependents and other family members may qualify for benefits based on your work history, they only receive a portion of your benefit. The Social Security Administration uses a complicated formula to calculate family benefits for retirees. According to the SSA, the total family benefit (not including disability benefits) for a worker at age 62 cannot exceed the following amounts:

  • 150% of the first $1,184 of the worker’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), plus
  • 272% of the PIA over $1,184 through $1,708, plus
  • 134% of the PIA over $1,708 through $2,228, plus
  • 175% of the PIA over $2,228.

This formula prevents families from receiving beyond reasonable amounts. Don’t forget, though, that your family can also receive disability benefits in addition to benefiting from your retirement. If you’re unsure what types of Social Security benefits you and your family qualify for, contact one of our advocates for immediate assitance.

Have Questions about Social Security Secrets?

If you have questions about Social Security, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA right away! Our trained professionals work to address your Social Security concerns. You can contact us anytime at (602) 952-3200. Additionally, you can contact us online and check out our LiveChat feature. Leave your questions to the professionals. Contact an advocate at SSDA USA today!

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a representative-client relationship.

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