Whether you’re close to retirement age or not, Social Security should be on your radar. However, there is a lot of misinformation about Social Security floating around, and believing it could lead you astray. Here are some common myths that you should not believe.
1. Your filing age is irrelevant.
You have options when it comes to claiming Social Security. Once you reach full retirement age, or FRA, you are entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your personal wage history. Depending on when you were born, you are either 66, 67, or somewhere in between.
However, you may claim benefits at a different age than FRA. You can sign up as early as age 62, and you can technically postpone your filing indefinitely.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that your filing age is irrelevant. If you claim benefits before reaching FRA, your benefits will be permanently reduced. If you file after FRA, your benefits will increase by 8% per year until you reach the age of 70.
Assume you are eligible for a $1,800 monthly benefit at a FRA of 67. If you apply for Social Security at the age of 62, your benefit will be reduced to $1,260. If you wait until you’re 70 to file, your benefit will increase to $2,232. Overall, there’s a $972 difference in this example between your highest possible monthly benefit and your lowest – so it’s critical to choose your filing age carefully.
2. Social Security is insolvent.
You may have heard that Social Security is about to run out of funds. And it is true that the program faces depletion of its trust funds within the next ten years.
However, the program’s trust funds are not the primary source of revenue for Social Security. Rather, the majority of Social Security’s revenue comes from payroll taxes levied on workers. And it intends to continue this practice.
As a result, the program will not run out of funds anytime soon. While benefit cuts are on the table, they are not guaranteed to occur.
That is why you should not rush to sign up for Social Security, believing that it is your best option for collecting money while the program is still in operation. If you take this route, you may end up with a much lower monthly income in retirement.
3. You can live comfortably solely on your benefits.
Many people believe they can let themselves off the hook in terms of retirement savings and instead rely on Social Security. But that is a risky decision to make.
It’s a common misconception that you can live comfortably on Social Security alone. If you’re still not convinced, consider that the average senior receiving benefits today receives only $1,663 per month.
If that sounds like enough to cover your living expenses, disregard your savings. Otherwise, you should make a concerted effort to start saving for retirement.
The more you understand about Social Security, the more financial security you’re likely to achieve later in life. It’s also critical to understand which Social Security myths to avoid in order to avoid making poor decisions that will have a negative impact on your retirement.