Everyone who works, pays into Social Security for at least 10 quarters, and earns a minimum of $1,160 per quarter (2013), is eligible to receive benefits. You earn more credits, and, therefore, higher benefits the more you earn and the longer you work. That much, most people know.
The bigger question is how much will I receive when I am ready to take my benefits? That’s not so easy to determine because there are a lot of factors. One way to at least estimate what you are eligible to receive is to look for your annual Social Security benefits statement. This statement provides an annual accounting of your credits and an “estimate” of what you could receive based on starting your benefits at different ages, such as 62 (first year of eligibility) 66 (full retirement) or age 70. These are estimates, however, and are subject to change based on your future earnings.
What your statement doesn’t tell you is how much you will receive if you have a spouse and you want to exercise any number of different options for collecting benefits between you and your spouse. There are no less than 40 options or combination of options that can be selected when there is a spouse (especially one of different age) involved.
If you don’t receive an annual statement, you can call the Social Security Administration (800-772-1213) or go to www.ssa.gov to order form 7004 which is benefits estimate. But, don’t expect to get any guidance on which options to choose. If your retirement time horizon is within 10 years, and you are married, it would be extremely important to sit down with a retirement income specialist. It may cost you a fee, but, with the wrong option, you could be leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table.
The information provided is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice or recommendations for any specific individual, business, or circumstance. TowneBank cannot guarantee that it is accurate, up to date, or appropriate for your situation. Financial calculators are provided for illustrative purposes only. You are encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or financial advisor to understand how the law applies to your particular circumstances or for financial information specific to your personal or business situation.