Knowing where you stand now with Social Security will pay off

beth kobliner For most people, Social Security is a mystery. We see that 6.2 percent deduction on our pay stubs and wonder: What does it mean for my financial future? The answers: A lot. And not enough.

After tax season, take a few minutes to go online and read your Social Security statement. Even if your retirement is 30 or 40 years away, you need to know where you stand now. The Government Accountability Office tells us that nearly a third of households with members ages 55 and up have no retirement savings plan or pension in place—zip. That means Social Security is the only post-retirement pay they’ll get – and the estimated average monthly benefit for retirees (as of 2017) is just $1,360. (See what I mean by “not enough”?)

And women (lucky us!) have special reasons to worry. In a survey released in December 2016, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies reported that men claimed to have more than three times the retirement savings women have. Yes, it appears that the dreaded Pay Gap has a retired older cousin called the Retirement Gap. (Oh, and because women live longer than men, on average, you’ll probably need to save for two or three more years of retirement.)

To check up on your Social Security, log on to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/, and follow the instructions to view your Social Security Statement. It will show you how much you’re currently eligible for, depending on when you start receiving Social Security benefits. Your monthly benefit amount increases the longer you delay your retirement, up to age 70. People get a smaller monthly benefit if they take early retirement, at age 62, than they would get at full retirement age (67 for anyone born in 1960 or later). Keep working until you turn 70, and you’ll get quite a bit more each month in retirement. Your online Statement breaks it all down.

You can also find out the monthly amount you’re eligible for if you become disabled and can’t work – and whether your family qualifies for survivor benefits in the event of your death.

Confronting your Social Security status annually will give you a much-needed reality check. Could you survive on what the government will send to you each month? (The short answer: Don’t count on it.) How much – and how quickly – do you need to start saving in a 401(k) or IRA? (Hint: the maximum – now.)

So now you know. Social Security needs to be part of your annual financial checkup. Because inspecting the old safety net might inspire you to start saving now so you will have enough to fall back on in retirement.

 

The Social Security Administration thanks Beth for her guest blog on Social Security Matters. We do not endorse any particular financial advisory product or service.

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59 thoughts on “Knowing where you stand now with Social Security will pay off

  1. So terrible – every time when we get very, very modest COLA increase, it always goes to Medicare monthly premium, NOTHING for us at all. Very disgusting! With Trump, he may destroy us a bit further and may lay off a lot more SSA employees.

    • unless the Medicare recipient is new to the program, the rate they pay is frozen as to not lower the monthly rate. The employees won’t be laid off- they’ll be furloughed several days during the year- wait times will be horrible. The last time a furlough occurred- the upper manangement were told to stay home – they got everything paid back after the furlough ended- the field office employees were considered ‘essential’ and had to report to duty, regardless of how long their pay was delayed- they too received full pay for all furlough days, but unlike senior management in Baltimore, had to work for it — And that’s a FACT.

      • You have it all backwards. The employees went home on paid vacation and middle management had to stay to keep things going because they could perform all the job functions of those whom they supervised.

      • I am 72 years of age. I was told when I started working at age 14, that the money taken out of our checks was for retirement and we would get most of it back. A president borrowed our money and the government never paid it back. My husband was a Vietnam veteran and passed away. I did not get his disability. Is all the lies told us ever been thought about? We cannot live on the social security we receive now. Back when I was working, I worked 2 jobs. There was not a 401k or IRA. What are we supposed to do now? It is not our fault that we were lied to. Now they are reducing our Social Security. No one in the White House could live on this amount. They all should try. I once got a cost of living raise each year and when Obama took over that was discontinued. Are you trying to kill all the old people out? I think you should give it some thought. We would not be able to get insurance because of the payment of new insurance. Medicare is all we can afford
        Why would the government think we could live on less? Mary

    • I get my ssi / disability and I was denied from 2004 to 2011 . They finally gave it. But denied me all my money. I worked since I was 16 till I could work any more. Health issues all over the place. The government robbed us. AMD going to rob our kids. When it’s their time

      • So you are getting regular disability payments now every month?

        The average person pays in approx. $3,000 to $4,000 a year in FICA.

        So lets say you worked 30 years and paid in $4,000 a year.

        So you paid in $120,000

        Average benefit of $1,300 a month, you would get paid back ALL of your $120,000 in SEVEN YEAR AND EIGHT MONTHS!

        Every payment after that is EXTRA!

        This isn’t just for you but for EVERYONE!

        Why does everyone think THEY put all of this money in and it was “robbed’ from them?

        MOST will get back MUCH more than they put in!!!!!!!!!!

        Going by the example above, say you get your disability benefits for 20 years.

        You would get back $312,000 in 20 years and ONLY paid $120,000 into the system.

        You have to PROVE that you are disabled, it is a strict policy they have.

        • I no longer live in the USA and my disability payment was stopped. I was ask to go for medical review. Am in Africa. How can I have my medical review. It’s been over five years now my condition has detorated. I slowly dying with my disability. Please help.
          Victor

      • I consider your statement “Obama has done us harm. God bless Trump!” as a blatant false and unreasonable outburst that is coming from a person with very short memory of what Obama did for low income population. Trump is just starting and we are watching for what is capable of. Please do not shower any praise on him yet, because it is too early to do that. Let him do something first.

  2. I have widower benefits to receive from my husband. The windfall elimination procedure did not affect his monthly SS benefits. If I wait till 60 to claim his benefits I am understanding that the windfall elimination will not affect my widower benefits only my own SS benefits of which are much smaller so I will only claim on my husbands SS benefits. Just want to verify I am eligible to claim at 60 if I choose to do so and the impacts it could have.

    • Hi, Korri. Thank you for your question. If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can start receiving reduced benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled). For more information check out our Survivors Planner.

      Keep in mind, a pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions: The Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. To learn more, please visit our webpage, Information for Government Employees. We hope this helps.

      • I am just 74 and wonder why you answer by speaking in government speak not plain english. Your reply was just a little confusing.

  3. We put our faith in are so_called leaders and they failed us. Our founding fathers knew human nature,hence the Constitution was born.Too bad we do not follow it anymore.

  4. I wan almost 70 and collect ss. My x husband, a retired municipal employee that also put in 30th years to as, collects ss. I was the greater wage earner. So he is entitled to collect an equal amount as me. Correct?

    • Hello Barbara: Thank you for your question. Keep in mind that when you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own work history and also qualify for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, we will always pay out from your own work record first.
      Based on the information you provided, each of you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own work history. For your ex-spouse to receive additional divorced spouse’s benefits on your record, his full retirement amount must be less than half of your full retirement amount. The option to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefit and delay receiving your retirement benefit until a later date is available for individuals that were born before January 2, 1954 and have reached their full retirement age. We hope this information helps.

  5. Hi.I have been on Disability for several years and had forgot about my pension plan 401 that i had for 23 years that i put into it.well i hav not put into it. Since im disabled and i am only 53.Woman in Texas and i want to know can i get early retirement .?I realy do wish i can for my monthly check only gets e through half of a month.Thanks

  6. Our government has been a dictatorship for the last 30 years and no one seems to realize it. The Revolution is way past due and more people are at the gun range every day. I went there the other day and couldn’t get in as they only let enough in to comply with the fire code and when one comes out another went in. I was 267th in line and I went home. The next day it was the same thing except there were tents pitched on the lawn and I
    wasn’t going to stay overnight. I went home again. I will try again next week.

  7. We applied fr our sss retirement pension dec13 2016. Plus spousal benefits.
    As of tday no written reply sent.
    Checked d web my account says”processing”.
    Till when will u be processing?
    We pd 25 yrs pre premium, good in collecting,
    Veryslow in releasing our benefits.
    Whats going on??
    Pls send us communications.
    Tks por favor.

    • You can file 3 months before retirement and may not have yet reached the age you selected to retire. If you were 63 say on Feb 5th, your 1st month of payment would be March and March’s check come in April. Hope that helps.

  8. I will reach full retirement age at 66. I want to retire at 64 and will collect on my ex-husband’s maximum ss. Can you tell me as of today…1) what is the maximum as as of today and 2) what is the percentage I can collect? I have gotten 2 answers…47.4% and 43..3%…help.
    KJ

    • Hello KJ: Great question. The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2017, your maximum benefit would be $2,687. You may use the Benefits for Spouses Calculator to determine your percentage. We hope this helps.

  9. Why do divorced women that was married to the ex over 15 yrs, and has not remarried and got laid off from work at age 62, went on SS earlier than planned due to trauma and spousal abuse and dud not get child support.. and did not make more money than her ex husband have to wait until he dies to be eligible to receive his high tee social security benefit. Much higher than mine! Thankful I am back to working but I am 68 and SS coming out of my payroll. This tough. I am tired of just living paycheck to paycheck. Why can’t I get what I am entitled to even if he is still alive? Why does he have to be dead? He also remarried but it wasn’t with another woman!!! Will his husband get his Ss?

  10. I’m 56, high blood pressure and can’t afford medicines, doing part time work , don’t earn enough hours for them to put me full time in order for insurances, I know a friend she told me that she’s the same age as I am and receive ss disability, she’ll only have high blood pressure and a weigh problem and she gets full benefit of ss disability, is it a way that u can apply for benefit,

  11. How long does it take for a decision from the judge it’s been since Nov 9, 2016 decision suppose to been made by March 9, 2017 no answer?

    • Have your lawyer call the judges office and if you don’t have a lawyer call yourself to inquire about it that’s excessive for three months.

      The head administrator Aljudge who did mine said it would be months before I got decision but I got a notice back in two weeks that I was and the money was in my checking account.

    • Hello Patricia: Our records are confidential and we do not disclose information about individuals who are living unless we have their consent to disclose such information to you. Your husband will need to request for a new Social Security card himself. To do this, he will need to gather documents proving both his identity and citizenship status. After we receive his application and verify all documents, he should receive his replacement Social Security card by mail within 10 business days. We hope this helps. Good luck.

  12. Beth, I’m going to wait till I’m 70 to collect Social Security ( 5 years) my statement says I’ll collect around $2,700 at 70 years old Will that number keep increasing over the next five years?

  13. Life is what it is and they didn’t give me all my back pay money. They only went back 2yrs .But I’m not able to work anymore not even a 4hr. Job 20 hrs a week. My health won’t let. I’ve heart disease. High blood pressure.thyroid issues, cops, astma, sleep apnea.take all these pills just to stay alive. And y’all want me to servive on $755 a month. Omg

    • $755?, ain’t you very lucky! I am on a mere $280 per month, and SSA has refused to pay me since June 2016 for no reasonable excuse other than I do not have a bank account. SSA doesn’t care sending checks to me.

  14. If I keep working past my full retirement age (66) will get the 7 to 8 percent plus what I pay into social security? Thanks Ricky

  15. Is the secretary of Social Security Administration empowered to contradict or arbitrarily change Social Security laws? I have been a victim of SSA’s deliberate misinterpretation of some social security rules or laws. For example my 14-year old daughter who was found medically disabled was not approved for benefit because she did not have 40-hours of work and her parents, myself and the mother did not too, but we had lived in the US for 6 years. The law requires kids who have lived for only 5 years in the US to be approved if they are found to be medically disabled.

  16. Is it true that FULL (not partial payment) SS retirement benefits are paid effective the beginning the month I reach FRA? I was born in the middle of the month. I applied for SS retirement benefit 3 months before my FRA birth month to take effect on my birthday. I was told I would receive a check in the following month for the “entire” month I reached FRA. Is that correct?

  17. i work or us for social security through fbi nij odni for American people for secure from terrorism
    more than last 06 years but not get my pay from USA
    for my right honest administration
    through social security i like to get my pay from government of USA
    i love all USA people like my 01 family of love
    at this holy lenten my wish to hear peace around the world love humanity
    i love to work too for kind humanity or USA
    best regards too soul security administration team

    thanking you
    i am yours loving lie
    Egodage world wide /global leader stand up on behalf you

  18. I get benefits on the1st and the 3rd but my3rd benefits have Been late for the past 3 months because they had said I could work and while it was in appeal I could get continued benefits but the check on the3rd was held up for some reason you have to ask for each benefit separately they don’t just count as “your benefits” so now they’ve determined that I’m still disabled and everything was supposed to return to regular payments on the1st and 3rd however I didn’t receive my benefits on time in February it was 2 weeks late then in March almost 3 weeks late now April I haven’t received it yet and it will end up almost a month late I’ll bet so actually what they’ve done is managed to skip a whole month of paying me if they make it so late that it rotates into the next month! I feel like there is someone at ss administration that hates me and they are using their power over my life to make me suffer.. How can they continue to do this to me? I’m losing everything because I am late on everything and the fees are piling up.. They won’t give me extra to cover the fees that they’ve caused will they? What am I supposed to do? How can I stop this? Why haven’t I received my check??

    • We apologize for the delay and inconveniences you are experiencing. Unfortunately, but for your security, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. You should be allowed to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

    • Why do you get two benefits from social security is my question to you unless one is from a private pension and social security has nothing to do with that delay?

  19. I “filed and suspended” my SSA benefit last year at age 66. Yesterday I got a letter saying “We changed your monthly benefit to $x,xxx” as of March 2017. We found that your prior amount was incorrect. We cannot pay you monthly benefits at this time.” That’s all it says. No information about why it was changed or what the prior amount was. My online statement doesn’t give any monthly benefit information. Only the list of my contributions appear. Where can I find information on my “prior” monthly benefit?

    • Hi Ruth. Unfortunately and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot answer your question at this time. One of our representatives should be able to provide you with an explanation and answer your questions about this matter. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit your local Social Security office for further assistance. When calling our toll free number, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day, or later in the week, thanks.

  20. After I retired and became elgible for SS I applied. I was to get close to 800.00 a month. I have a pension which I paid for. When I applied for SS I was told I would only get 150.00 a month,and not gthe 800.00 I thought I would get . I was told that because I have a pension that I paid for ,All I could get was 150.00 a month. People who never paid into it are getting more than me.
    .00

    • Thank you for your comment Ruben. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefits can be reduced based on one of two provisions. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP can affect how we calculate your benefit amount, resulting in a lower Social Security benefit than you otherwise would receive. The other provision that can affect your spouse’s or widower’s benefits from Social Security is called the Government Pension Offset.

  21. Good Day, Ray:

    I’m currently receiving Social Security (S S) and have been since June 30, 2009; the month I turned 62 years of age. My wife has been on Social Security Disability since 2010. In the event of her demise, am I entitled to any -and if so – how much of her Social Security? She is, currently, receiving $1,780.10 per month and my S S amount is $1,609.90 per month.

    Regards,
    H. Peter Wilson

    • Thank you for your question Mr. Wilson. If you’re eligible for survivor’s benefits, the monthly amount you would get is a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit. It depends on your age and the type of benefit you would be eligible to receive. Next, when a person is eligible to more than one benefit at the same time, that person’s benefit amount can never exceed the highest single benefit amount to which that person is entitled. Also, keep in mind that if a person begins to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to their full retirement age, their benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits the person may qualify for. Each person’s situation is different, and you will have to talk to a Social Security representative for specifics in your case. We hope this information helps.

  22. I am about to retire and become an employee of a contract employer. I am well above full retirement age. Is there any way my social security benefits can be affected by the number of hours I work for my new employer each month?

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