7 Social Security Mistakes to Avoid, Undeniably, Social Security has turned out to be a near-perfect source of income during the retirement years. There are many reasons for it. One of them is that you would not run out of money during your lifetime if you have invested in Social Security in your employment years. Since this retirement funds’ source is so important, possibly you do not want to take such steps unconsciously that may affect your SS benefits.
But it has been seen that many SS beneficiaries do just that. It is all because this program is a little bit confusing and if you make just simple decisions, then you may suffer from a great loss.
To save yourself from costing you high, the below-mentioned is the list of 7 mistakes that you should avoid. Learn more about them:
7 Social Security Mistakes to Avoid
Ignoring to check their earnings record
Social Security has a huge and strong database where it keeps your earnings record throughout your career. With this record, SS calculates your average wage which is used to determine the amount of SS benefits. Sometimes, people do not check their earnings records with SS, whether these are correct or not, losing their benefits in terms of wages that they already paid as taxes.
Access your SS account by visiting the official website of Social Security to examine your earnings record and if there is any mistake, then do fix it. One can do it by contacting SSA as soon as possible. Documentation will be needed, which may include tax returns, W-2s, paystubs, etc. You need to give them complete evidence to trust you and get the records fixed in any manner.
Staying in employment for too few years
As you already know that SS calculates average wages to decide on your benefits, at the same time, average wages are calculated based on the thirty-five years in which your earnings were maximum. If you do not invest at least 35 years in employment, then SS will factor in $0 for every year you are undersized.
It impacts your average, particularly in the case when you were working for fewer than 35 years. Focus on this milestone if you want to maximize your retirement SS benefits.
Underestimating your income
Some people work for themselves, they may not report all the income they earn so that they can save on taxes. It could not only impact their IRS audit it will also shrink their SS benefits since the size of their check is based on the average wage.
So, if you do not want to shortchange yourself in the retirement years, it would be good if you report every dollar you earn and side by side, you are paying the SS tax on the income according to the annual wage base limit.
Leaving work when your earnings potential is at the peak
A lot of workers deal with low earnings in their careers, even after the adjustment of inflation. The time, when you did not have too much earnings, can drag down the average wage that decides on your SS benefits. One can replace those years with maximum-earning ones by working more than thirty-five years factored into the calculation.
Staying on the job for a few additional years could help you replace some low-earning years that will affect your average wage to a higher extent and increase your benefit for the rest of your life. So, don’t make this serious mistake.
Not having complete info about all the available benefits
There are different types of Social Security benefits you could have. Like survivors and spousal benefits can be claimed only if you are widowed or married. And if you were married for at least 10 years, then you could be qualified to receive these benefits, yes, even after a divorce.
Make sure you know that these SS benefits could be maximum if your partner earned more than you. It is advised to understand all the available options before claiming any of the SS benefits.
Applying for benefits at the wrong time
Make sure you understand the right time to claim SS benefits. There are 3 options you may have when you can claim your SS benefits, these are:
- At full-retirement age: Claiming between 66 and 67 and getting your standard benefit amount
- After full-retirement age: If you claim in this period, then you will get your raised benefits with delayed retirement benefits. However, you will receive fewer checks.
- Before full-retirement age: If you do claim before the normal retirement age, then your benefit will be decreased by early filing penalties, but checks will be given to you earlier.
SS beneficiaries who live long enough for maximum monthly benefits to receive missed checks can delay, which really makes sense. In case, if you do not expect that you survive long or would rather receive more checks with smaller amounts, it would be better for you to claim early. The tip here is that try to go deeper and realize how your age will impact your SS benefit amount, rather than making your own choice quickly.
Bypassing the rules before you apply or act
Now, it is completely understandable that there is a lot to explore about Social Security. There are several rules and regulations that you should not miss in any case whether you are going to claim your benefits or not.
Try to get your hands on those rules, which may include how your monthly benefit is calculated, what is the best age to get SS benefits, and how early filing could influence your SS benefit amount. Make your intention to maximize the earnings throughout your career, increasing the chances of getting the highest benefit for sure.
In the end, it can be said that retirement years are the best time to spend with family. So, don’t ruin them by just thinking about the expenses in those years. Invest time to learn more about the SS benefits that are waiting for you and secure your retirement years financially.