RRA Educational Resources/Blog/How Are Social Security Benefits Calculated? Situationally, of course!

How Are Social Security Benefits Calculated? Situationally, of course!

A home cannot be sold unless the foundation is sturdy, correct? A retirement portfolio cannot succeed without a solid foundation as well. For retirement, that foundation is Social Security, and SS is typically 40% of a retiree’s income. Like a home, each person’s benefits will vary.

No situation is the same which is why when you file for Social Security benefits will depend on marital status, children, years worked, etc. We provide a simple breakdown of the most common circumstances below.

Single?
With full retirement age at 70, singles have the least of options when beginning benefits. Their benefits are solely off their work history alone.

Married?
These are the cases where age and earnings pay a bigger role. High earners and stay-at-home parents? Or 5+ age gap?

In some married cases, public employees are opted out of the SS program and are provided their own retirement program. This varies by state. However, the public employee status can impact a spouse’s SS benefits.

Divorced?
Depending on length of marriage and current martial status, a retiree claiming SS may be able to draw from an ex-spouse or two.

Kids?
Most commonly, if a kid is disabled before 22, they are eligible to draw SS benefits from a working parents record.

If a parent passes and the child is under 18 or still in high school, they are also potentially eligible for drawing benefits off the deceased parent’s work record.

Surviving spouse?
Between a widowed spouse’s and a deceased spouse’s (or deceased ex-spouse) work history, the surviving spouse may be eligible to claim SS benefits.

Defining Full Retirement Age:
According to the Social Security Administration, the year you are born impacts this number. For example, full retirement age for someone born in 1959 is 66 and 10 months. After 1960, the age is 67. This will likely increase as the program ages and the American population’s longevity increases.

That goes to say, that if you claim SS before your full retirement age, you will see less in your monthly payment. If full retirement age is 65 and someone claims benefits at 62, they will see slightly less than 70% of their full benefits. Should you wait until after your full retirement age and claim benefits closer to or even after 70, you will see 6-8% increase in your monthly SS payments.

Every Social Security situation is different and could vary based on martial status, current and past, and could be impacted by widowhood or divorce. To see your contributions, sign up for an account on www.ssa.gov. If you want to gain insight to how much you may qualify for, use https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/calculators/ for various calculators to help determine your monthly benefits.

​For even more information, listen to Dave Hall discuss Situational Social Security with Marc Kiner and Jim Blair on episode “Social Security is Situational: How Your Benefits Will Vary.”

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