3 Reasons Your Social Security Benefits Were Less Than Expected

For most people, Social Security benefits are an important part of their retirement budget. During your retirement planning, you probably read about ways to maximize your benefits. It’s important to take steps to maximize your benefits, but you should also know that it’s possible to lose them. The average monthly benefit is $1,503—a significant amount, especially when it’s your primary income.

Want to make sure you’ll get all of your benefits? Here are three things that can affect your Social Security that you might not even know about.


Offsets

An offset is when someone to whom you owe money claims your benefits. Essentially, the money will go toward certain unpaid debts until those debts are paid. These kinds of debts include back taxes, defaulted student loans, or any unpaid child support/alimony.

First, the Social Security Administration will determine whether you owe this money. If you do, your benefits will be reduced by a certain amount until that debt is paid off.

Medicare Premiums

Once you turn 65, you’re eligible to enroll in Medicare. If you’re eligible for or are already receiving Social Security benefits, you can get premium-free Medicare Part A. However, you will have to pay a premium for Medicare Part B (the medical insurance component). Your premium will depend on your yearly income. For example, if you made $87,000 or less, you will pay $144.60 per month. If you made $500,000 or more, you’ll pay $491.60.

Regardless of the amount, this payment is typically automatically deducted from your Social Security benefit.

Early Withdrawal

Though adults are able to start collecting Social Security benefits at 62, it will cost you. If you collect benefits before reaching full retirement age, the Social Security Administration reduces benefits. The reduction is based on the number of months you received benefits before retirement age. Other factors, such as your spouse’s lifetime income or whether you’re divorced, can also affect the amount you receive.

However, if you delay your benefits until age 70, you’ll earn delayed retirement credits. This can increase your benefit amount by 8% each year.

You can also work while taking Social Security benefits. Just know that some benefits may be withheld if you surpass the yearly earnings limit. The limit varies, depending on whether you have reached full retirement age.

The bottom line is that it’s important to consider when you’ll start withdrawing your Social Security benefits. Thinking through your strategy ahead of time can help you increase the amount you receive in the long run!

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