The baby boomer generation spans from working individuals in their 50s to those who are fully retired, however not all baby boomers have substantial retirement savings at their disposal. This leaves social security a critically important source of income for millions of individuals set to retire over the next couple of decades.
Here is an easy to understand guide on how Social Security will work for you and how much income you’ll get. The following information will help you understand your needs in the future of your retirement.
Retirement Age Increase
As it stands, at the age of 62 you become eligible for Social Security benefits at a reduction to your full benefit. Age 66 is currently considered full retirement age to receive your maximum benefits.
Starting in 2020, any individual born in 1955 will reach full retirement age at 66 years, two months. For those born in 1956, they’ll have to wait another two months, to 66 years, four months. This two-month increase will continue until people born in 1960 or later reach the new full retirement age of 67 in 2027. As an example: someone born in 1954 would have turned 62 in 2016, thus eligible for social security at a reduced rate. Since their full retirement age is 66, they would receive 75% of their full benefit if they retired at age 62. However someone born in 1958, for instance, would have a full retirement age of 66 years, eight months. But if that person retired at 62, they would only get 71.7% of their full benefit. If you live to age 80, this is about $7,100 less on a $1,000-per-month benefit, not including cost-of-living adjustments.
A spouse can plan to retire on their own work record or on yours, however the rules still apply when it comes to full retirement age and their benefits. If your spouse is younger than you, it may be necessary for them to continue to work or to delay filing for Social Security. The retirement age is an important fact to consider if your spouse will file on your work record, and is likely to outlive you. Here’s what the Social Security Administration says about the survivor’s benefit and how it could be lower if you retire before full retirement age.
“If your spouse started receiving retirement benefits before their full retirement age, we cannot pay you the full retirement age benefit amount from their record. The maximum survivors benefit is limited to what they would receive if they were still alive.” the SS administration reports.
Your Health & Life Expectancy Matter
Social Security is structured to provide flexibility,so you can take benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. While the monthly benefit is significantly lower if you file early and much higher if you delay, the total dollars paid to someone who lives the average lifespan isn’t vastly different unless you raise a significant chance of either living much longer than average or dying younger. Here’s a table that breaks down where you would maximize your total benefit, based on filing age and age of death:
The facts above are largely about the financial impact of when you take Social Security. And while the financial part should play a primary role in when you file, it’s not the only thing that matters. We must each also consider what kind of retirement we want, the value of other retirement assets and what we want to do with the time we have before we die.