3 Social Security Mistakes You May Not Realize |  Smart Change: Personal Finances

3 Social Security Mistakes You May Not Realize | Smart Change: Personal Finances

(Maurie Backmann)

Reading about Social Security probably isn’t your idea of ​​a fun afternoon. And who could blame you?

But if you don’t take the time to learn about Social Security, you could end up making a big mistake that will hurt you financially when it comes time to claim benefits. Here are some of those gaffes you might accidentally make – but regret afterwards.

1. Getting the full retirement age wrong

The social security benefit you are entitled to during your retirement will depend on your personal salary history. From there, you can claim your full monthly benefit at full retirement age, or FRA.

Image source: Getty Images.

Many seniors assume that FRA is 65 because that’s when Medicare eligibility begins. And to be fair, that can be confusing because you actually go to the Social Security Administration website to enroll in Medicare, at which point you are asked if you want to simultaneously claim Social Security.

But in reality, the FRA doesn’t kick in for at least a year beyond initial Medicare eligibility. And depending on your year of birth, it might not kick in for two years.

Meanwhile, if you file for Social Security before reaching FRA (you can do so from age 62), your monthly benefit will be permanently reduced. And so, if you don’t want that to happen, you’ll need to know when you’ll be entitled to claim the full benefits. You can consult this table to obtain your FRA:

year of birth

Full retirement age




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later


Data source: Social Security Administration.

2. Waiting too long to claim benefits

Filing the Social Security claim before reaching FRA will result in reduced benefits. But delaying your filing beyond the FRA will have the opposite effect – your benefits will get a nice boost to the tune of 8% per year that you expect.

Once you reach age 70, however, you cannot accrue deferred retirement credits which result in a higher benefit. And so there is no sense in delaying your deposit beyond that point. If you do, you could end up losing money that you would otherwise be entitled to.

3. Delaying a spousal benefit

If you’re applying for Social Security based on your own earnings, delaying your filing beyond the FRA could result in a higher monthly benefit for life. But that is not the case with a spousal benefit.

If you are applying for benefits outside of a spouse’s or ex-spouse’s case, it makes no sense to delay your filing beyond your own FRA, as this benefit is not eligible for a coup. inch. Instead, the maximum spousal benefit you can qualify for is 50% of the benefit your current or former spouse receives.

Know the rules

Social Security has a lot of nuances, and it’s hard to keep track of them all. But at the very least, be sure to memorize your FRA and learn how deferred benefits work. By mastering these key points, you’ll be more likely to apply for benefits at the right time and get the most out of Social Security.

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