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A man getting answers about the Social Security process

How does Social Security Work? How are Social Security benefits calculated? Ask AARP's Social Security Question and Answer Tool. This online resource presents our members with answers to questions on applying for retirement benefits or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the workings of the cost of living adjustment (COLA), and delayed retirement credits in an easy to understand manner. Knowing how this landmark of American government can best work for you is the aim of AARP's Social Security Question and Answer Tool.

 

 

Applying

 

Q: Can I direct deposit my Social Security check?

A: Direct deposit is the method of benefit payment distribution preferred by the Social Security Administration. — Read Full Answer

 

 

Q: How can I get a copy of my award letter or Social Security statement from Social Security?

A: To get a copy of your Social Security Award Letter, you should contact the Social Security Administration agency directly. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How do I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?

A: To apply for Social Security retirement benefits you should contact the Social Security Administration. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

A: To apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you should contact the Social Security Administration. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How far in advance should I sign up for Social Security benefits?

A: You should apply for Social Security benefits about 3 months before you want to receive your first payment. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What documents do I need to have in order to file for Social Security benefits on a former spouse's record?

A: There are several documents (i.e. W-2 forms or divorce decree) you will need to file for benefits on an ex-spouse's record. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Calculate

 

Q: Assuming I begin taking my retirement benefit at age 62 instead of age 66, at what point is the breakeven year or age? I've been told it's approximately 13 years. Is that true?

A: The breakeven age varies based on the ages compared and type of benefits received. Using this strategy may lead to a loss of additional benefits. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: At what age should I begin taking Social Security retirement benefits?

A: Benefits are reduced if an individual chooses to claim for early retirement rather than wait until reaching full retirement age. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Can I collect two full benefits at once?

A: You cannot collect more than one monthly benefit at a time. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Can I receive a civil service pension and Social Security at the same time?

A: You can receive a government pension and file for Social Security at the same time. Yet, there is a possibility that your benefits may be reduced. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Can Social Security benefits be seized by creditors?

A: Federal law generally prohibits the garnishment of benefits with a few exceptions. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Do my Social Security contributions go into a personal retirement account for me and earn interest?

A: FICA contributions enter a trust fund for all beneficiaries. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How are Social Security benefits calculated?

A: Monthly Social Security benefits are based on your earned income over your highest paid 35 years of employment and/or self-employment. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How can I get an estimation of how much I will collect when I retire?

A: Printed benefit estimate statements are mailed out to people over 60. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How does the Social Security COLA work?

A: The cost of living adjustment (COLA) is based on a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index (CPI). — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How far in advance should I sign up for Social Security benefits?

A: You should apply for Social Security benefits about 3 months before you want to receive your first payment. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I have already begun taking Social Security benefits. Is there any way I can get the amount increased?

A: You may be able to increase and recalculate your benefit amount if you continue to work. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I move to another state will it affect my Social Security benefit?

A: Relocating to another State will not affect your retirement benefit. Benefits are based on your lifetime work record. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I retire early at 62 or 64 and begin benefits, will I get an increase when I get to 66?

A: When benefits are claimed before full retirement age they are permanently reduced. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I take benefits early, when I reach full retirement age, can I pay back what I have received and then apply for and receive full benefits?

A: There is a Do Over provision to repay benefits but you must withdraw your application within one year. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If you delay claiming beyond your full retirement age, do you also receive a COLA adjustment?

A: All Social Security benefits are amended for inflation using a cost of living adjustment formula. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If you retire at any point after age 62, are the benefit reductions prorated by month?

A: If you file for Social Security before full retirement age, the benefit reduction is based on how many months you claimed early retirement. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: My Social Security earnings statements do not include all my income. How can I correct that?

A: You should contact the Social Security Administration and request corrections to any errors in your earnings history. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What is my full retirement age?

A: Currently, 66 is the full retirement age for people born between 1943 and 1954. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What is the impact on benefits If I claim before my Full Retirement Age?

A: Claiming early retirement at age 62, rather than age 66, will permanently reduce your monthly payment. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What is the maximum full retirement benefit that someone can receive?

A: The maximum monthly benefit at full retirement age (age 66) is $2,533. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Why does my benefit increase if I delay claiming past 62, the earliest age of eligibility?

A: Benefits are calculated to increase by a certain percentage if you delay your retirement claim until full retirement age. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Changes

 

Q: Can my Social Security benefit be garnished for unpaid student loans?

A: Some unpaid student loans can cause benefits to be reduced. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How much longer will Social Security be around?

A: Social Security's trust fund is fully solvent until 2034. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I'm moving out of state. How do I change my address with Social Security?

A: Contact the Social Security Administration to report changes. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Is the Full Retirement Age being raised?

A: The changes to the FRA from age 66 to age 67 were mandated by Congress in 1983. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What happens to the Social Security benefits of a person who goes to jail?

A: If incarcerated, benefits are suspended for the duration of your prison sentence. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Who will be impacted by any of the proposed cuts and changes to Social Security?

A: AARP feels that any Social Security reforms - cuts or changes to Social Security - will likely take place gradually. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Social Security Cards and Numbers

 

Q: Do Social Security numbers get reassigned once a person dies?

A: Social Security numbers are not reused. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How can I get a Social Security number for a new baby?

A: After the baby's birth, you can apply for a Social Security card at the hospital. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How can I replace a lost Social Security card?

A: You can replace a lost Social Security card by visiting your local Social Security office in-person or online. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How do I get a Social Security card?

A: You must fill out an application with the Social Security Administration. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Spouse

Q: How do spousal benefits work?

A: A spouse can collect up to 50% of their partner's benefit. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Survivor

 

Q: Can I collect both my own retirement benefit when I turn 62 and my widower's benefit?

A: Social Security will compare the survivor benefit with your own retirement benefit and give you the greater of the two. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Do survivor benefits expire if you do not claim them at the first age of eligibility?

A: Survivor benefits will grow if delayed until full retirement age. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How do survivor benefits work?

A: A widow/widower can receive monthly survivor benefits based on the earnings records of their deceased spouse. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: What is the Social Security death benefit?

A: The death benefit is a lump sum paid to a person's survivors upon their death. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: When someone dies, how does the Social Security Administration know?

A: Family members should inform the SSA within a month of a beneficiary's death. — Read Full Answer

 

 

Submit a Question to AARP Experts

Didn’t see the answer to your question? Help us improve the tool by submitting your Social Security question. Go

 

 


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