Articles Posted in Social Security

12.2.19Benefits for Social Security survivor children’s benefits are generally made out to a parent or guardian. They are taxable income, but most children do not have enough income to owe taxes on the benefits.

According to a recent article “Are Social Security survivor benefits for children considered taxable income?” from Investopedia, the only way the benefits would be taxed if half of the child's benefits in a year, plus other income earned by the child in that year, reached the level that required a tax return to be filed and for taxes to be paid.

If half of the annual benefits plus the child's other income is greater than a base amount set by the IRS, then a portion of the benefits is taxable.

5.10.19Just because you can take Social Security at age 62, doesn’t mean you should. Taking it earlier means that your monthly benefits will be reduced. The longer you can wait, ideally until age 70, the better.

Applying for Social Security benefits is a pretty simple process, according to Investopedia’s recent article, “When To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits.” The earliest you can apply is when you are 61 plus nine months, or four months before benefits are scheduled to begin. Your first Social Security payment will occur four months later, which is going to be the month after you celebrate your 62nd birthday. After that, benefit payments arrive after every full month that you are eligible, if you apply as soon as you are eligible.

Applications can be submitted either online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. A very convenient way to apply is online at the Social Security Administration website. The application itself takes about 15 minutes and can be saved at any point for future completion. This application can also be used to apply for Medicare.

9.11.19Social Security disability benefits are based on average lifetime earnings. How severe the disability is, or what the household income is, has nothing to do with the amount of money that will be paid.

If you have your annual Social Security statement, you can see what you’ll probably get in the Estimated Benefits section. However, this is an estimate and not a final number. The total amount a disabled worker and his or her family can receive is roughly 150% to 180% of the disabled worker's benefit. Eligible family members can include a spouse, divorced spouse, children, a disabled child and/or an adult child disabled prior to age 22.

The estimated Social Security disability benefit amount for a disabled worker receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in January 2019 is $1,234 per month. However, a beneficiary can receive either less than this or up to $2,861, according the article “What are the maximum Social Security disability benefits?” from Investopedia.

3.22.19There was a time when most people had three sources of income in retirement. One was their savings, the second was Social Security and the third was their pension from work. Today, very few workers enjoy the security of a pension, and retirement income is dependent on each person’s ability to save, plus Social Security.

For those remaining workers who have pensions, at some point a decision must be made whether to take their pensions over time or to receive the accrued value as a lump sum. A pension can be a stable stream of income in retirement, or it could be a lump sum that is invested. There are pros and cons to both.

Investopedia’s recent article, “Pension Planning: Lump Sum Versus Monthly Payments,” says that the pension provider takes the risk of both sub-par market returns and the possibility that the retiree will live longer than expected. The article raises several thoughts to consider, when making the decision:

10.25.18If it seems like every time you start to understand Social Security, there’s something else to learn, you’re right. However, this is an important part of your retirement income, so it’s important to understand.

The Social Security earnings test is a way that the agency determines the limit of the amount of money individuals who have not yet reached full retirement age (FRA) can earn, while they are collecting Social Security retirement benefits.

For 2018, for every $2 that a worker who has not yet reached FRA earns over the annual threshold limit of $17,040, Social Security will withhold $1 from your benefits.

10.9.18If you’re living on your retirement savings, while waiting to start taking Social Security benefits to full retirement age or even age 70, you might be costing yourself thousands in taxes.

It’s annoying. There’s no way around it. You’ve worked your whole life, and paid taxes on those earnings. Now you have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits. However, depending on your asset level, you may want to start getting those benefits earlier, says this article from Kiplinger, “Why Wealthy People May Want to Take Social Security at 62.”

There are many good reasons to wait and take Social Security at full retirement age to get the full benefit amount. In waiting longer to file, the benefit can grow 8% a year from full retirement age to age 70.  However, this one-size-fits-all advice may not be appropriate for everyone, especially for the wealthy.

Consider these twin concepts—opportunity cost and delayed retirement credits—before you decide when to start taking Social Security.

By waiting until age 70, you’ll increase your monthly benefit, but at what cost? A recent article in Forbes, “Social Security Benefits: Getting Paid To Wait,” examines the dilemma. Money managers call it “opportunity risk:” if you take money from retirement accounts that would otherwise be invested and grow, in order to delay taking Social Security, you are risking the potential for that money to grow.

Can you plan for opportunity cost? Start by looking at whether to wait to take Social Security after your “normal” retirement age, which is 66 for most people. If you wait to claim at age 70, you’ll see the largest-possible Social Security benefit. If you’re not working, you’ll probably be withdrawing money from your retirement funds, which means that those funds won’t be able to grow for a period of several years. As a result, you’ll need to weigh the opportunity cost of not having funds growing tax-deferred in your retirement accounts, against the larger Social Security benefit you will eventually get.

4.20.18They say that numbers don’t lie—and you definitely want to know about this data!

Before you decide to retire at age 62 and start taking Social Security benefits, you may want to dig a little deeper into the statistics, especially if you are a man.

“Your life might depend on your decision,” MarketWatch notes in its article, “Why early retirement can be a killer.” This is because there’s a significant increase in mortality among men who retire at 62 and begin receiving Social Security, according to a new study that recently was distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

1.24.18Many things change when you retire, including tax strategies. Steps that you took when you were working, may now work against you. Knowing what has changed and what you need to do can help avoid unnecessary tax liabilities.

Tax planning is different after retirement. You might think that a lower income level and fewer deductions are the only changes, but it’s not that easy. You have to understand how retirement benefits and investment returns are impacted by federal and state laws, according to a recent article in Kiplinger, “3 Tax-Planning Mistakes Retirees Too Often Make.” Here are the three most commonly made mistakes:

Tax Loss Harvesting. Tax loss selling means selling a capital asset, like a stock, for a loss to offset a gain realized by the sale of other investments. The result is that the investor avoids paying capital gains on recently sold investments. Retirees with stock holdings should review their holdings every year to determine their market exposure and any tax consequences of selling stocks with substantial capital gains.

7.17.17Deciding when to start taking Social Security payments has to be considered in the total picture of retirement planning.

The challenge of retirement planning is that once a big decision is made, you don’t have three or four decades to fix any mistakes. The same holds true for deciding when to take your Social Security payments. Taking it out too early, can have a long term negative impact.

Kiplinger notes, in its June article, “What to Consider Before Filing for Social Security Early,” that some Americans are beginning see the financial benefits of waiting for their full retirement age (between 66 and 67 based on your birth year). But others don’t wait because you can take them as early as 62 with reduced benefits.

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