4 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Plan for Retirement

woman sitting at desk looking at computer Deciding when to start receiving your retirement benefits from Social Security is a decision that only you can make, and you should make that decision with as much information as possible. There are a lot of important questions to answer.

Should you claim benefits earlier and get a smaller monthly payment for more years? Or should you wait and get a bigger monthly amount over a shorter period?

There are no right or wrong answers, but we encourage you to consider these four important questions as you plan for your financially secure retirement:

How much money will I need to live comfortably in retirement?

Anticipate what your expenses will be in retirement, including things like mortgage payments or rent, utilities, healthcare insurance and related costs, food, personal care, car payments and maintenance, entertainment, hobbies, travel, and credit card or other debt. Also, consider whether you’ll need to provide for your spouse, children, or grandchildren.

What will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit be?

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2018 is $1,404 (up from $1,377 in 2017). The average monthly Social Security benefit for a disabled worker in 2018 is $1,197 (up from $1,173 in 2017). As a reminder, eligibility for retirement benefits still requires 40 credits (usually about 10 years of work). The Social Security Act details how the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is calculated. You can read more about the COLA on our website. The best way to get an estimate of your retirement benefit is with a my Social Security account. Get yours today.

Will I have other income to supplement my Social Security benefits?

Secure your financial future with a retirement portfolio that includes savings, investments, and possibly a pension plan. If you’re willing and able, you may choose to increase your income by working past retirement age. Social Security replaces a percentage of a worker’s pre-retirement income based on your lifetime earnings. The amount of your average wages that Social Security retirement benefits replaces varies depending on your earnings and when you choose to start benefits. If you start benefits at age 67, this percentage ranges from as much as 75 percent for very low earners, to about 40 percent for medium earners, to about 27 percent for high earners. If you start benefits after age 67, these percentages would be higher. If you start benefits earlier, these percentages would be lower. Most financial advisers say you will need about 70 percent of pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement, including your Social Security benefits, investments, and other savings.

How long do I expect my retirement to last?

Anticipate the length of your retirement, keeping in mind that many American workers will live much longer than the “average” retiree. Consider your health, family longevity, and lifestyle. Your Social Security retirement benefits will provide continuous income for as long as you live, protecting you even if your other sources of income run out. Discover your life expectancy with our online calculator.

No one can predict the future perfectly, but careful planning and preparation will help you to make a well-informed decision about when to start receiving your Social Security benefits.

If you’ve contributed enough to the Social Security system through FICA payroll taxes, you can receive your full retirement benefit at age 66 or 67 depending on when you were born. You may also claim it sooner, starting at age 62, at a permanently reduced rate. Or you may wait until after your full retirement age, increasing your benefit amount by up to 8 percent per full year to age 70.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey, and we’re here to help you prepare for a financially secure future for you and your family. We invite you to use our online retirement planners.

To learn more about all of our programs, please visit us.

Join us on Facebook Live with USAgov on 1/30 at 7 P.M. ET as we chat about retirement.

Note: The closed captioned version will be available within one week after the broadcast.


150 thoughts on “4 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Plan for Retirement

  1. they ask to enter a security code to log in, then they ask
    by text or email , I request by text , it say wait 2 min, i waited over 10 min & and it never arrived

  2. I have plan to retire now ‘coz I’m already 66yrs old
    how I can file my retirement . And I can not open
    my account on SSS , I forgot my password.

    • Thank you for using our blog, Carlita. You can apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your payments to start. The easiest and most convenient way to apply is by using our online retirement application. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to make an appointment with your local office. See our Frequently Asked Questions web page for more information.

      Applying for retirement benefits online does not require a my Social Security account. However, we offer various ways for you to reset your password. See our Frequently Asked Questions web page for more details. Hopefully you’ll be able to access your account soon.

    • Hi Deborah. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) guidelines require that we consider part of your husband’s income and resources to be available to you as well.
      This means that when you’re married, we take into account your spouse’s income and resources when figuring out your monthly (SSI) benefit amount.
      We also take into consideration your living arrangements. These factors may affect whether you can continue receiving SSI benefits and how much.
      Remember that you must contact us to report any changes, it’s still possible that you can continue to receive SSI benefits after we conduct a “Redetermination”.
      For further assistance, please contact your local office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  3. I am 63 years old. Would like to start receiving half of my ex spouses (he is 65) Social Security (have been divorced nine years) Will I then have the option to receive my own full retirement at age 66?

  4. I am applying for part B and I would like to know how the premium will be made? Can it be set up to come out of my monthly benefit?

  5. how much can i earn in 2017 first year without penalty retired at 62 and am still employed also how much can if earn in 2018

  6. Please send me a new Social Security card. My name isCarol Elizabeth Bullock Patton, & I live 98684-4514. The last four digits of my SS# are 3011. Thanks so much,
    Carol Elizabeth Patton

    • Please send me a new social security card! My name is Carol Elizabeth Patton. My address 98684-4514. The last four digits of my SS# are 3011.

      • Hi Carol, thanks for using our blog. First, realize you may not need a replacement card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. However, if you must get a replacement card, you may be able to apply online. If you do not qualify to apply online, then you can apply by mail or visit your local office with required documentation. All documents must be either originals or certified copies. To learn more on how to get a replacement card and see if you can apply online, please visit our “Social Security Number and Card” web page.

        Just a reminder – We do not have access to personal information in this venue. Please be cautious about posting personal information on social media channels. Thanks.

    • Hello Jim. We currently do not have an online appointment scheduler. However you do not need an appointment to file for benefits or appeal a disability decision. You can file for the following benefits online:
      Medicare; and

      If you do not want to apply for benefits online, or you need to speak to us for any other reason, you can schedule, reschedule or cancel an appointment by:
      •Calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; or
      •Contacting your local Social Security office. Thanks!

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