Social Security will comprise a significant part of your retirement plan, and you spend many decades paying into the system. But surprisingly, many of us know very little about how the program actually works!
To assess the average level of knowledge about Social Security, MassMutual recently invited participants to answer a quiz. The simple test offered 12 true-or-false questions, and was directed toward people aged 55 to 65. So you might think that the average participant displayed adequate knowledge of Social Security…
Actually, just over one third of participants outright failed the test with a grade of F. Another 18 percent earned a D.
And how many earned an A plus by answering all 12 questions correctly? A shocking three percent!
Are you wondering what’s so confusing about Social Security? Here are nine of the most commonly surprising facts that many people don’t know.
- You probably won’t be able to live off of Social Security. Benefits will amount to about 30 to 40 percent of your pre-retirement income.
- Your benefits are calculated according to your 35 highest-earning years.
- When someone dies, their spouse can keep whichever benefit check was higher (theirs or the deceased spouse’s).
- Claiming your own benefit might not be the best method to maximize benefits. If your spouse earned a lot more during their career, your spousal or survivor’s benefit might actually be higher than your own.
- You aren’t required to be married in order to claim spousal benefits. As long as you were married at least ten years before divorcing, you are entitled to a spousal benefit on your ex-spouse’s work record.
Social Security benefits can be taxed.
- If you claim your benefits and then change your mind about retirement, you can withdraw your application and delay benefits until a later date.
- You can claim benefits earlier than your full retirement age. But if you’re still working, some of your benefits will be withheld if you earn more than a certain threshold (you will receive credit for this amount later when you reach full retirement age).
- The Social Security program is not going to disappear. However, some changes are likely due to how it is funded.
Are you surprised by any of these facts? You should definitely become familiar with Social Security, because it will contribute to a substantial portion of your retirement income. To learn more about how the program works and how to maximize your own benefits, schedule an appointment with us to discuss your retirement plans.