Here's What You Need to Know About Your Social Security Benefits

male hand holding social security card

When I first began working in the late ‘70s, I was told, “Don’t worry about Social Security – it won’t be around for you!” 

Now that I’m a little closer to being eligible to draw from Social Security and, despite the naysayers, it’s still around, I became curious about what my options really are. Here are a few things I found out.

Retirement age is now a moving target.  If you were born after 1960, your full retirement age is 67. Many Americans believe full retirement age is 65, but that is no longer necessarily true. Check this chart to see what your full retirement age is if you were born before 1960.

When Can You Begin Drawing Your Social Security Benefits? 

You can start drawing your benefits before your full retirement age but you will receive a reduced amount. Your monthly check will be reduced by 5/9th of a percent for the first 36 months you draw early and 5/12th of 1% for each additional month. 

For example, if your normal retirement age is 67 and you start collecting social security at age 62, a $1,000 benefit at your full retirement age would be reduced to $700, a full 30% reduction. View the chart here to calculate how your benefits would be impacted by early retirement.

When Is It Best to Start Drawing Social Security Benefits? 

It depends on several factors but your decision boils down to this: If you retire before your full retirement age, your benefit will be smaller but you will receive it for a longer period of time. If you retire at your full retirement age or later, you will receive a larger monthly benefit for a shorter period of time. 

Before deciding whether or not to take your Social Security benefits early, it’s important to plan out how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement. But because none of us knows the future, we have to take some educated guesses when making our decisions.

Here are a few questions the Social Security Administration (SSA) suggests you think through: 

  • Do you plan on continuing to work while drawing Social Security benefits?
  • Are you in good health and have a family history of longevity?
  • Will you have health insurance?
  • Are you eligible for benefits on someone else’s record?
  • Do you have other benefits to support you if you decide to delay taking your benefits?
  • Will other family members qualify with you on your record?

If you decide to delay your benefits after age 65, the SSA urges you to apply for Medicare benefits within three months of your 65th birthday. If you don’t, you risk having your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) cost you more because of late enrollment penalties.

If you’re not sure about what you’ll need to retire comfortably, make an appointment to sit down with one of our financial consultants*. They can help you figure out what resources you have and what you will need to make the best decision possible about when to draw your Social Security benefits. 

The Social Security Administration website is full of information about how your benefits work today.

Retirement is one of the most important financial considerations for anyone today. And as you get closer to retiring, it becomes more critical to have a solid plan of action. Sign up for our webinar Retirement Planning Later in Life, which will be held on Monday, September 14, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET. It will focus on deciding when to retire, investment options, estate planning, Social Security benefits, and healthcare considerations.

Register for Retirement Planning Later in Life

*Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. Hanscom Federal Credit Union is not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using Hanscom Investment Services, and may also be employees of Hanscom Federal Credit Union. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Hanscom Federal Credit Union. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates are: 

Not Insured by NCUA or Any Other Government Agency / Not Hanscom Federal Credit Union Guaranteed / Not Hanscom Federal Credit Union Deposits or Obligations / May Lose Value

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About Author

Bill Burpeau
Bill Burpeau

Bill Burpeau is a relationship manager at Hanscom FCU. As a Credit Union Certified Financial Counselor, he is an enthusiastic advocate of financial literacy and education. He constantly studies and is up to date with the latest financial management concepts and technology. Bill is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a BBA in Business Management and served in the U.S. Navy as a Supply Officer.

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