The Top 5 Questions About Social Security Benefits Answered

Published on: October 26, 2017

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After paying into the system for so many years, many retirees are eager to know how to navigate through Social Security and begin receiving their benefits. However, understanding the specifics about Social Security benefits can be a challenging and confusing process.

There are multiple factors that go into your determining your benefits, including retirement age, income, spouse, and even your health. It is therefore common for most people to have many questions regarding their benefits. Here are some of the most common questions and answers regarding social security benefits.

1. At what age should I start collecting Social Security?

Most people wrestle with the question of what age they should begin collecting their benefits. According to the SSA, the official retirement age is 66 years. You can, however, begin receiving benefits as early as age 62. If you choose to retire early, your monthly benefit amount will be lower due to the longer period that you will be receiving Social Security.

For example, if you retire at 62 instead of 66, there will be 48 additional months where you will be receiving benefits. Your monthly payments will, therefore, be 75% of what they would have been at the full retirement age of 66. If you choose to retire later, your monthly benefit will be increased in proportion to the number of months that you delayed claiming your benefits.

It is therefore up to you to decide the best age to begin collecting benefits, based on your financial plan.

2. Can I receive benefits on behalf of my spouse?

Widows/widowers, current, and ex-spouses are typically eligible to receive Social Security benefits under what is termed as a spousal benefit. A spouse must be at least 62 years or older to claim benefits on behalf of their partner. Divorced Spouses should also have been married for a minimum of 10 years, and they must not have remarried before age 60.

Spouses applying for Social Security benefits Orlando should contact the SSA’s office at the following address for more information on eligibility:

Suite 101

5520 Gatlin Avenue

Orlando, Fl 32812

3. How can I apply for Social Security benefits?

You can apply for Social Security benefits online, over the phone (1-800-772-1213), or in person at a local SSA office. Those applying for Social Security benefits in Orlando can visit the local SSA office on 5520 Gatlin Avenue to file an application. An appointment is typically not required, but it may help reduce the time you'll spend waiting.

You can contact the office via phone 1-866-964-6146 to schedule an appointment. If you need to contact the SSA national office, you can call 1-800-772-1213.

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When you apply, you should have the necessary documents, such as your Social Security card and birth certificate to prove your identity and eligibility. You also need your bank information for the direct deposit of your monthly benefits. Applicants without a bank account can sign up for the Direct Express card program, which works as a prepaid debit card.

4. How much will my monthly benefit be?

The SSA determines your monthly payments based on your total earnings over the course of your career. The SSA uses the highest 35 years in which you earned the most and calculates your average monthly earnings during that period. Your monthly benefit is then calculated off of your earnings for that time-frame. You can use the SSA’s retirement age calculator to get an idea of how much you will be receiving based on your income.

Social Security benefits work differently from other retirement benefit programs. Typical retirement programs work by offering benefits in direct proportion to the amount of income that you set aside while working. Social Security works differently, where it is more of a social insurance scheme aimed at giving low-income earners a safety net after retirement. Those who earn a higher income may thus end up paying more into Social Security and receiving relatively less in proportion to what they put in.

5. Can I receive Social Security while working?

You can choose to receive Social Security benefits while still working. However, you may have some of your benefits withheld or subject to taxation if you earn an income above a certain threshold. Any withheld benefits are however not lost, you will be able to receive them once you retire and stop working.

Typically, if you have attained full retirement age and choose to keep working, you will receive your full benefit amount. In cases where people haven’t attained the full retirement age of 66 years and choose to receive benefits while working, $1 of their benefits will be deducted from every $2 that they earn above $16,920.

Visit the SSA website for more information on disability benefits, retirement benefits, and Medicaid.

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