Monthly Social Security payments differ substantially depending on when you start receiving benefits.

The Social Security program allows you to start receiving benefits as soon as you reach age 62. The question is, should you?

Monthly payments differ substantially depending on when you start receiving benefits. The longer you wait (up to age 70), the larger each monthly check will be. The sooner you start receiving benefits, the smaller the check.

From the Social Security Administration’s point of view, it’s simple: if a person lives to the average life expectancy, the person will eventually receive roughly the same amount in lifetime benefits, no matter when they choose to start receiving them. In actual practice, it’s not quite that straightforward, but the principle holds.

The key phrase is “if the person lives to average life expectancy.” If a person exceeds the average life expectancy and has opted to wait to receive benefits, they will start to accumulate more from Social Security.

The chart shows how Social Security benefits accumulate for individuals who started to receive at ages 62, 67, and 70. The person who started to receive benefits at age 62 would accumulate $384,451 by the age of 85. Conversely, the person who started to receive benefits at age 70 would accumulate $454,019 by the age of 85. The example assumes a retirement benefit of $1,907 at age 67. It does not assume COLA.

Source: Social Security Administration, 2024

There is no single “right” answer to the question of when to start benefits. Many base their decision on family considerations, economic circumstances, and personal preferences.

If you have a spouse, the decision about when to start benefits gets more complicated – particularly if one person’s earnings are considerably higher than the other’s. The timing of spousal benefits should be factored into your decision.

When considering at what age to start Social Security benefits, it may be a good idea to review all the assets you have gathered for retirement. Some may want the money sooner based on how assets are positioned, while others may benefit by waiting. So, as you near a decision point, it may be best to consider all your options before moving forward.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

(Updated 2024)

Without a solid approach, health care expenses may add up quickly and potentially alter your spending.

In a 2022 survey, 35% of all workers reported they were either “not too” or “not at all” confident that they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement. Regardless of your confidence, however, being aware of potential healthcare costs during retirement may allow you to understand what you can pay for and what you can’t.1

Health-Care Breakdown

In a 2023 survey, 37% of all workers reported they were either “not too” or “not at all” confident that they would have enough money to pay for their medical expenses in retirement. Regardless of your confidence, however, being aware of potential healthcare costs during retirement may allow you to understand what you can pay for and what you can’t.1

A retired household faces three types of healthcare expenses.

  1. The premiums for Medicare Part B (which covers physician and outpatient services) and Part D (which covers drug-related expenses). Typically, Part B and Part D are taken out of a person’s Social Security check before it is mailed, so the premium cost is often overlooked by retirement-minded individuals.
  2. Copayments related to Medicare-covered services that are not paid by Medicare Supplement Insurance plans (also known as “Medigap”) or other health insurance.
  3. Costs associated with dental care, eyeglasses, and hearing aids – which are typically not covered by Medicare or other insurance programs.

It All Adds Up

According to one study, the average 65-year-old couple can expect to need $315,000 saved to cover healthcare expenses in retirement.2

Should you expect to pay this amount? Possibly. Seeing the results of one study may help you make some critical decisions when creating a strategy for retirement. Without a solid approach, healthcare expenses may add up quickly and alter your retirement spending.

Prepared for the Future?

Workers were asked how much they have saved and invested for retirement – excluding their residence and defined benefit plans.

Source: EBRI.org, 2023
  1. EBRI.org, 2023
  2. Investopedia.com, October 23, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

When to start? Should I continue to work? How can I maximize my benefit?

 
Social Security is a critical component of the retirement financial strategy for many Americans, so before you begin taking it, you should consider three important questions. The answers may affect whether you make the most of this retirement income source.

  1. When to Start? You have the choice of 1) starting benefits at age 62, 2) claiming them at your full retirement age, or 3) delaying payments until age 70. If you claim early, you can expect to receive a monthly benefit that will be lower than what you would have earned at full retirement. If you wait until age 70, you can expect to receive an even higher monthly benefit than you would have received if you had begun taking payments at your full retirement age. The decision of when to begin taking benefits may hinge on whether you need the income now or can wait, and whether you think your lifespan will be shorter or longer than the average American.
     
  2. Should I Continue to Work? Work provides income, personal satisfaction, and may increase your Social Security benefits. However, if you begin taking benefits prior to your full retirement age and continue to work, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 in earnings above the prevailing annual limit ($21,240 in 2023). If you work during the year in which you attain full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 in earnings over a different annual limit ($56,520 in 2023) until the month you reach full retirement age. After you attain your full retirement age, earned income no longer reduces benefit payments.1
     
  3. How Can I Maximize My Benefit? The easiest way to maximize your monthly Social Security benefit is to simply wait until you turn age 70 before receiving payments.
1. SSA.gov, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Here are five facts about Social Security that are important to keep in mind.

Social Security can be complicated, and as a result, many individuals don’t have a full understanding of the choices they may have. Here are five facts about Social Security that are important to keep in mind.

1. Social Security Is a Critical Source of Retirement Income

Some have the perception that Social Security is of secondary or even tertiary importance in retirement. But according to a recent report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, Social Security represents a major source of income for 67% of retirees.1

Keep in mind that Social Security makes annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) based on the Consumer Price Index, and under current laws, pays income for life and the life of your spouse.2

2. You Can Choose When You Take Social Security

You have considerable flexibility regarding when you can begin receiving your benefits. You may begin receiving benefits as early as age 62; however, your benefits will be reduced at a rate of about one-half of 1% for each month you begin taking Social Security before your full retirement age.3

The full retirement age is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later. If you were born before 1960, your retirement age will be reduced depending on the year in which you were born.

You may choose to delay receiving benefits until after reaching your full retirement age; in which case, your benefits are scheduled to increase by 8% annually. This increase under current law will be automatically added each month from the moment you reach full retirement age until you start taking benefits or reach age 70 – the age at which these delayed retirement credits stop accruing. Plus, your benefit also will increase by any cost-of-living adjustments applied to benefit payment levels during that time.4

If you intend to continue working, you may still receive the full benefit for which you are eligible. Indeed, working beyond full retirement age can increase your benefits. However, your benefits will be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits. If you work and start receiving benefits before full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 in earnings above the prevailing annual limit ($22,320 in 2024).5

If you continue to work during the year in which you attain full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 in earnings over a different annual limit ($59,520 in 2024) until the month you reach full retirement age.5

Once you have attained full retirement age, you can keep working, and your benefits under current law will not be reduced regardless of how much you earn.5

As you can see, the decision of when to begin taking Social Security is a critical one.

3. Social Security May Be Taxable

Depending on your income level, your Social Security benefit may be subject to taxation. The chart below illustrates how your combined income (adjusted gross income + your nontaxable interest + one-half of your Social Security benefit) can impact whether your Social Security retirement benefit is subject to taxation.6

Will Your Social Security Benefits Be Subject to Federal Income Taxes?
[table]
This potential income tax exposure may have substantial implications for whether you choose to work during retirement, how your assets are invested, and the timing of withdrawals from other retirement accounts.7,8

For instance, a withdrawal from a traditional IRA may lift your income beyond the thresholds described above, subjecting a higher proportion of your Social Security to income tax.7,8

The same is true of investment earnings in non-retirement savings. Retirees who have investment earnings in excess of their current spending needs may be subjecting their Social Security income to taxation. Shifting a portion of those assets to a tax-deferred instrument may be one way to manage taxation on your Social Security benefit.9

4. Social Security Can Be a Family Benefit

When you start receiving Social Security, other family members may also be eligible for payments. A spouse (even if they did not have earned income) qualifies for benefits if they are age 62 or older – or at any age if they are caring for your child. (The child must be younger than 16 or disabled.)

Benefits may also be paid to your unmarried children if they are younger than 18, between 18 and 19 and enrolled in a secondary school as a full-time student, or age 18 or older and severely disabled.

Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit that is up to half of your retirement (or disability) benefit amount. There is a family limit, which varies, but is generally between 150% to 180% of your retirement (or disability) benefit.10

Should you die, your family may be eligible for benefits based on your work record.10

Family members who qualify for benefits include:

  • A widow or widower
    • age 60 or older;
    • age 50 and older if disabled; or
    • any age if they are caring for your child who is younger than 16 or disabled and entitled to Social Security benefits on your record.
  • Unmarried children can receive benefits if they are:
    • under 18 years of age;
    • between 18 and 19 and are full-time students in a secondary school; or
    • age 18 or older and severely disabled (the disability must have started before age 22).

Your survivors receive a percentage of your basic Social Security benefit – usually in the range of 75% to 100% for each member. However, the limit paid to each family is about 150% to 180% of your benefit rate.10

5. A Divorced Spouse May Be Eligible for Benefits

If you are divorced, you may qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record. To be eligible for benefits, your ex-spouse must have reached the age at which they are eligible to begin receiving benefits (although they do not necessarily need to be receiving them).10

To qualify, you need to:

  • have been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years;
  • have been divorced for two years or longer;
  • be at least 62 years old;
  • be unmarried; and
  • not be entitled to a higher Social Security benefit based on your own work history.

If your former spouse is deceased, you may still receive benefits as a surviving divorced spouse (irrespective of the age they died), assuming that your ex-spouse was entitled to Social Security benefits, your marriage was at least 10 years, you are at least 60 years old, and you are not entitled to a higher benefit amount based on your own work history. If you remarry before the age of 60, you will lose the ability to receive a survivor benefit from your deceased ex-spouse.10

If your former spouse is living, the maximum amount that you are eligible to receive is 50% of what your former spouse is due at full retirement age. To receive the maximum benefit, you will need to wait until you have reached your own full retirement age.10

Your benefits are unaffected should your former spouse elect to take Social Security before reaching full retirement age or if your ex-spouse starts a new family.10

1. EBRI.org, 2023
2. SSA.gov, 2023
3. SSA.gov, 2023
4. SSA.gov, 2023
5. SSA.gov, 2023
6. SSA.gov, 2023
7. In most circumstances, once you reach age 73, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA). You may continue to make tax-deductible contributions to a Traditional IRA past age 70½ as long as you meet the earned-income requirement.
8. Once you reach age 73 you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a Traditional Individual Retirement Account in most circumstances. Withdrawals from Traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.
9. The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contact. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made prior to age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies).
10. SSA.gov, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Here’s a look at several birthdays and “half-birthdays” that have implications regarding your retirement income.

Most children stop being “and-a-half” somewhere around age 12. Kids add “and-a-half” to make sure everyone knows they’re closer to the next age than the last.
When you are older, “and-a-half” birthdays start making a comeback. In fact, starting at age 50, several birthdays and “half-birthdays” are critical to understand because they have implications regarding your retirement income.

Age 50

At age 50, workers in certain qualified retirement plans are able to begin making annual catch-up contributions in addition to their normal contributions. Those who participate in 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans can contribute an additional $8,000 per year in 2024. Those who participate in Simple Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Simple 401(k) plans can make a catch-up contribution of up to $3,500 in 2024. And those who participate in traditional or Roth IRAs can set aside an additional $1,000 a year.1,2

Age 59½

At age 59½, workers are able to start making withdrawals from qualified retirement plans without incurring a 10% federal income tax penalty. This applies to workers who have contributed to IRAs and employer-sponsored plans, such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans (457 plans are never subject to the 10% penalty). Keep in mind that distributions from traditional IRAs, 401(k) plans, and other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income.

Age 62

At age 62 workers are first able to draw Social Security retirement benefits. However, if a person continues to work, those benefits will be reduced. The Social Security Administration will deduct $1 in benefits for each $2 an individual earns above an annual limit. In 2024, the income limit is $22,320.3

Age 65

At age 65, individuals can qualify for Medicare. The Social Security Administration recommends applying three months before reaching age 65. It’s important to note that if you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (medical insurance) without an additional application.4

Age 65 to 67

Between ages 65 and 67, individuals become eligible to receive 100% of their Social Security benefit. The age varies, depending on birth year. Individuals born in 1955, for example, become eligible to receive 100% of their benefits when they reach age 66 years and 2 months. Those born in 1960 or later need to reach age 67 before they’ll become eligible to receive full benefits.5

Age 73

In most circumstances, once you reach age 73, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a traditional Individual Retirement Account and other defined contribution plans. You may continue to contribute to a traditional IRA past age 70½ as long as you meet the earned-income requirement.
Understanding key birthdays may help you better prepare for certain retirement income and benefits. But perhaps more importantly, knowing key birthdays can help you avoid penalties that may be imposed if you miss the date.

1. If you reach the age of 50 before the end of the calendar year.
2. IRS.gov, 2023
3. SSA.gov, 2023
4. SSA.gov, 2023. Individuals can decline Part B coverage because it requires an additional premium payment.
5. SSA.gov, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Retirement income may come from a variety of sources. Here’s an overview of the six main sources.

What workers anticipate in terms of retirement income sources may differ considerably from what retirees actually experience. For many people, retirement income may come from a variety of sources. Here’s a quick review of the six main sources:

Social Security

Social Security is the government-administered retirement income program. Workers become eligible after paying Social Security taxes for 10 years. Benefits are based on each worker’s 35 highest earning years. If there are fewer than 35 years of earnings, non-earning years are averaged in as zero. In 2023, the average monthly benefit is estimated at $1,827.1,2

Personal Savings and Investments

Personal savings and investments outside of retirement plans can provide income during retirement. Retirees often prefer to go for investments that offer monthly guaranteed income over potential returns.

Individual Retirement Account

Traditional IRAs have been around since 1974. Contributions you make to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your individual circumstances. In most circumstances, once you reach age 73, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Withdrawals from Traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. You may continue to contribute to a Traditional IRA past age 70½ as long as you meet the earned-income requirement.

Roth IRAs were created in 1997. Roth IRA contributions cannot be made by taxpayers with high incomes. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals also can be taken under certain other circumstances, including as a result of the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

Defined Contribution Plans

Many workers are eligible to participate in a defined-contribution plan such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan. Eligible workers can set aside a portion of their pre-tax income into an account, which then accumulates, tax-deferred.

In most circumstances, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from your 401(k) or other defined contribution plan in the year you turn 73. Withdrawals from your 401(k) or other defined contribution plans are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Defined Benefit Plans

Defined benefit plans are “traditional” pensions—employer–sponsored plans under which benefits, rather than contributions, are defined. Benefits are normally based on factors such as salary history and duration of employment. The number of traditional pension plans has dropped dramatically during the past 30 years.3

Continued Employment

In a recent survey, 73% of workers stated that they planned to keep working in retirement. In contrast, only 23% of retirees reported that continued employment was a major or minor source of retirement income.4

Expected Vs. Actual Sources of Income in Retirement

What workers anticipate in terms of retirement income sources may differ considerably from what retirees actually experience.

1. SSA.gov, 2023
2. SSA.gov, 2023
3. Investopedia.com, December 30, 2022
4. EBRI.org, 2023
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.
css.php