Articles tagged with: Social Security Administration

Apply for Social Security Now … or Later?

 

When should you apply for benefits? Consider a few factors first.

Now or later? When it comes to the question of Social Security income, the choice looms large. Should you apply now to get earlier payments? Or wait for a few years to get larger checks?

Consider what you know (and don’t know). You know how much retirement money you have; you may have a clear projection of retirement income from other potential sources. Other factors aren’t as foreseeable. You don’t know exactly how long you will live, so you can’t predict your lifetime Social Security payout. You may even end up returning to work again.

When are you eligible to receive full benefits?
The answer may be found online at socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm.

How much smaller will your check be if you apply at 62? The answer varies. As an example, let’s take someone born in 1952. For this baby boomer, the full retirement age is 66. If that baby boomer decides to retire in 2014 at 62, his/her monthly Social Security benefit will be reduced 25%. That boomer’s spouse would see a 30% reduction in monthly benefits.1
Should that boomer elect to work past full retirement age, his/her benefit checks will increase by 8.0% for every additional full year spent in the workforce. (To be precise, his/her benefits will increase by .67% for every month worked past full retirement age.) So it really may pay to work longer.2

Remember the earnings limit. Let’s put our hypothetical baby boomer through another example. Our boomer decides to apply for Social Security at age 62 in 2014, yet stays in the workforce. If he/she earns more than $15,480 in 2014, the Social Security Administration will withhold $1 of every $2 earned over that amount.3

How does the SSA define “income”? If you work for yourself, the SSA considers your net earnings from self-employment to be your income. If you work for an employer, your wages equal your earned income. (Different rules apply for those who get Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income checks.)4
Please note that the SSA does not count investment earnings, interest, pensions, annuities and capital gains toward the current $15,480 earnings limit.4

Some fine print worth noticing. If you reach full retirement age in 2014, then the SSA will deduct $1 from your benefits for each $3 you earn above $41,400 in the months preceding the month you reach full retirement age. So if you hit full retirement age early in 2014, you are less likely to be hit with this withholding.4
Did you know that the SSA may define you as retired even if you aren’t? This actually amounts to the SSA giving you a break. In 2014 – assuming you are eligible for Social Security benefits – the SSA will consider you “retired” if a) you are under full retirement age for the entire year and b) your monthly earnings are $1,290 or less. If you are self-employed, eligible to receive benefits and under full retirement age for the entire year, the SSA generally considers you “retired” if you work less than 15 hours a month at your business.2,4
Here’s the upside of all that: if you meet the tests mentioned in the preceding paragraph, you are eligible to receive a full Social Security check for any whole month of 2014 in which you are “retired” under these definitions. You can receive that check no matter what your earnings come to for all of 2014.4

Learn more at socialsecurity.gov. The SSA website is packed with information and user-friendly. One last little reminder: if you don’t sign up for Social Security at full retirement age, make sure that you at least sign up for Medicare at age 65.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
website: cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – socialsecurity.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm [2/26/14]
2 – socialsecurity.gov/retire2/delayret.htm [2/26/14]
3 – socialsecurity.gov/cola/ [2/26/14]
4 – http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10069.pdf [2/26/14]

Is this the direction we want to go?

My job as a financial advisor, as I see it, is to help my clients negotiate successfully through their financial life and work toward their goals along the way. But I’ve always felt that for them to be successful, most of the burden falls on them. Just like the old adage says, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
I offer what I think is my best advise based on their circumstances and based on what else I see going on in the world that could impact them, either directly or indirectly. As general trends go in our country today, it’s hard to see that we, collectively, are going in a path that will lead us in a positive direction. In my own clients, I see some good savers that are ready for the future but many more that may be scaling back their retirement plans because the money just isn’t there.
Maybe we’ve had it too good the last few decades and so we just didn’t try as hard as our parents. That’s tough for anyone to admit. Do we want to be better? A full 43% of Baby Boomers surveyed by AARP in November 2013 described their present financial situation as “worse than expected.” Craig L. Israelsen suggested in a July 2011 article on the Horsesmouth.com website that U.S workers aren’t saving enough and because of that are pretending that “building a better investment portfolio” will solve their lack-of-saving problem. He correctly states that contributions are largely controllable by the investor, while performance, particularly in the short run, is not. It’s easier to blame bad markets for a lack of investment savings than it is to blame a lack of saving, period.
Sometimes not saving is not income-related….you have a good job but simply spend beyond your means. I have little sympathy for those folks. Sometimes people just don’t earn very much or they just can’t find a job. In those cases it is easy to blame tough luck but sometimes that bad luck might be the result of our decisions as well—decisions that could go all the way back to high school or college days!
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of college students graduating in 2012 with a “Mathematics and Statistics” degree was 18,842. It was 24,800 graduates in 1971. A 24% decrease. Conversely, there were 38,993 graduates with “Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies” degrees in 2012, while only 1,621 such graduates in 1971. That’s an increase of over 2300%! Careers that use a lot of math typically pay more than careers in parks and rec. From that metric it appears we’re going the wrong way. Why is that? Are students choosing the easier majors or are colleges creating an easier degree path to lower paying jobs?
Are we as a society just looking for the easier path? In 2000 there were 8,471,453 people on Federal Income Supplement Program (disability), according to the Social Security Administration. Today there are 14,285,956. Is our workplace really 68% more dangerous than 14 years ago? The USDA says food stamp recipients in 2000 were 17,472,535, today they number 46,548,000. That’s 15 out of every 100 people, versus 6 out of every 100 just 14 years ago. The US Census Bureau says today there’s roughly 37 million more people in the U.S. than in 2000 and there’s 29 million more on food stamps. Really?
I have no doubt that many people, through no fault of their own or through true misfortune, need this government assistance. They should get it. I also have no doubt that even more people are abusing the system because they can. It’s much easier to let someone else carry the load if they will. (See: http://www.worthytoshare.com/pretty-girl-seeking-rich-husband-reply-got-banker-priceless# )
But eventually it may break the back of our country.

Can You Raise Your Social Security Benefits By Reapplying?

Social Security has closed a popular loophole, but all is not lost. 
The “reset button” has been removed. A few years back, the distinguished economist Laurence Kotlikoff alerted people to a loophole in the Social Security framework: retirees could dramatically increase their Social Security benefits by reapplying for them years after they first applied.

It worked like this: upon paying back the equivalent of the Social Security benefits they had received to the federal government, retirees could fill out some simple paperwork to reapply for federal retirement benefits at a later age, thereby increasing the size of their Social Security checks. Figuratively speaking, they could boost their SSI after repaying an interest-free loan from Uncle Sam.

You can’t do this any longer.

In late 2010, the Social Security Administration closed the loophole. Too many retirees were using the repayment tactic, and the SSA’s tolerance had worn thin. (The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College figured that the strategy had cost the Social Security system between $5.5-8.7 billion.)1,2

Today, accumulated Social Security benefits can no longer be repaid with the goal of having the SSA recalculate benefits based on the retiree’s current age. You can only withdraw your request for Social Security benefits once, and you are only allowed to reapply for benefits within 12 months of the first month of entitlement.1,3

Couples can still potentially increase their SSI. This involves using the “file and suspend” strategy once one spouse has reached full retirement age (FRA).

An example: Eric applies for Social Security at age 66 (his FRA). Immediately after filing for Social Security benefits, he elects to have his benefit checks stopped or postponed. As he has technically filed for benefits at full retirement age, his wife Fiona can begin receiving spousal benefits – a combination of her own benefits plus the extra benefits coming to her as a spouse, both reduced by a small percentage for each month that she is short of her FRA. (If she is younger than her FRA, she cannot apply to only receive a spousal benefit.)4

Meanwhile, Eric’s Social Security benefits are poised to increase as long as his checks are halted or deferred. As Eric has hit FRA, he now has the chance to accrue delayed retirement credits (DRCs) and have his benefits enhanced by COLAs between today and the month in which he turns 70.4

Before you claim Social Security benefits, run the numbers. Knowing when to apply for Social Security is crucial. As it may be one of the most important financial decisions you make for retirement, it cannot be made casually. Be sure to consult the financial professional you know and trust before you apply.

Michael Moffitt may be reached at (641) 782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Securities offered through LPL Financial (LPL), Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Advantage Investment Management, a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and Advantage Investment Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.
This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or a recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/withdrawal-policy-pr.html [12/8/10]
2 – www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-37841858/the-end-of-social-securitys-interest-free-loan/ [12/9/10]
3 – www.financial-planning.com/fp_issues/2011_3/under-the-radar-2671684-1.html [3/1/11]
4 – www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/01/30/social-security-qa-how-to-maximize-benefits/ [1/30/12]