Many seniors collect their Social Security benefits every month without really thinking about it. And just to be clear, Social Security is far from a perfect program. Not only does it have its fair share of flaws, but it doesn’t exactly pay that generously.
Despite this, Social Security does a lot of good for millions of people. And that’s just one reason we should all be thankful for it. Here are a few more.
1. It’s pretty easy to qualify for benefits
Eligibility for Social Security depends on earning enough work credits during your lifetime to qualify for benefits. The value of a work loan can change from year to year. In 2022, a credit is equal to $1,510 in earnings, and the maximum number of work credits you can accrue in any given year is four.
That said, you only need 40 work credits in your lifetime to be able to receive benefits when you retire. Even if you work very part-time, you may end up queuing for some money later on.
2. You can also qualify if you don’t work
Social Security takes care of spouses or ex-spouses who never worked and instead stayed at home to start a family (or opted out of the workforce for some other reason). If you are or were married to someone who qualifies for Social Security, you may be entitled to a partner’s benefit equal to 50% of what your current or former spouse receives each month.
3. You get flexibility about when you can archive
You are entitled to your full Social Security benefits based on your income history once you reach full retirement age or FRA. That age is 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on when you were born.
But you can claim Social Security as early as age 62, if you wish. For each month you claim benefits before FRA, those benefits are reduced. But you still get the choice to get your money earlier. That may mean applying as soon as you qualify, or applying for benefits at age 65 in conjunction with Medicare enrollment.
4. You can significantly increase your benefit by waiting
While claiming Social Security before FRA results in a reduced benefit, for every year you delay your application beyond FRA, it grows by 8%. That incentive ends when you turn 70. But if you look at an FRA of 67, you have the potential to increase your Social Security income by 24% – for life.
5. You Can Get Salary Increases During Retirement
The monthly benefit you start collecting from Social Security may not necessarily be the same benefit you receive for life. Every year, benefits qualify for a cost-of-living adjustment, and while those increases aren’t always the most robust, they’re certainly better than nothing.
Millions of seniors rely heavily on Social Security when their careers come to an end and it’s time to retire. While you may not like paying Social Security taxes on your income and may think the program is full of imperfect rules, there’s actually a lot to be thankful for.
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