Guest Bloggers, Taxes

Knowing where you stand now with Social Security will pay off

March 23, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 23, 2017

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, 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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  1. M. L.

    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,

  2. Naima W.

    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?

    • Naima W.

      I guess there is no answer to my question.

  3. KJ

    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.

    • john

      You’re entitled to 1/2 of his reduced by 24 reduction months for age which is 15 %.

    • Kenny O.

      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.

  4. Cris/gilda

    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.

    • john

      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.

      • john

        Meant to say 62 not 63.

  5. Don L.

    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.

    • AKA

      Sounds like you should start your own gun range.

    • Cathleen P.

      Sounds like you are delusional to me. Go get checked away the hospital. Not being rude just honest. Does not even make sense what you’re saying.

  6. Y v.

    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

    • John

      Early retirement for wage earners start at age 62.

  7. Barbara

    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?

    • John

      No, specific questions can’t be answered in this blog.

    • Kenny O.

      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.

  8. Joey S.

    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.

  9. Korri R.

    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.

    • Ann C.

      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.

      • Gsty B.

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

  10. Paul

    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.

    • SAMMY S.

      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.

      • William R.

        Never got my COLA!

      • William R.

        Never got my COLA! My dental insurance was increased by $6.00 per month!

        • Scenteast R.

          what dental insurance ? dental is not covered under medicare. You must have an advantage plan that is somehow manipulating your benefits. This has nothing to do with medicare.

      • John

        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.

        • Ken l.

          Not what i saw in USDA

      • Mary K.

        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

    • Bill B.

      Trump wasn’t even our president when we were give that COLA raise, so why are you blaming him?

    • Patricia

      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

      • Jeff

        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.

        • Victor

          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.

          • Bill B.

            Your fault for moving, so blame yourself and not social security.

    • Gabby

      No. Obama has done us more harm. God bless Trump!

      • OLATUNJI A.

        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.

        • Cathleen P.

          I totally agree with you to wait and see how things go. I don’t care, I liked Obama and i benefited from a few of his initiatives and was thankful for them. Right when I lost a job from some real idiot’s who were trying to deny me cobra insurance, the secretary told me she asked the boss and he said No I couldn’t have it!!!! They were both delusional, I went online and found all the info and realized they were screwing me big time and I was indeed qualified for cobra due to the amount of people in the company. See I worked at a office that only had maybe 15 employees but totally in the company and which is what the insurance was listed under they had well over 100 employees. I called the dept of labor they told me what to say and if I had trouble to tell them they would receive a call from the DOL.
          Due to president Obama’s plan I was eligible for reduced payments of my monthly premium and the company had to make up the difference!!!! I loved it I only paid 35% of the premium for the first 9 months!!! I was in Heaven due to Obama!! Plus I was happy to screw this company that was so egregious!! There were other things I benefited from also but this is long enough.

      • Chien J.

        Get your facts straight! Obama done so much for the poor and disadvantage. Trump enrich his, his family, and his rich friends and throw you some craps.

    • Bill B.

      President Trump had nothing to do with our COLA raise, so don’t blame him.

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