6 Steps to Optimizing Social Security Benefits

Social Security

Let’s look at a number of the most prevalent problems, concerns and life scenarios that could have an immediate effect on a person’s Social Security income. This really is by no means an exhaustive listing of issues that are useful but intended to inventing a Social Security game plan which makes sense for you as an excellent starting point.

It’s worth taking a minute before attempting to discover how it fits into your own life to comprehend Social Security in its historic context. Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance System, OASDI, is the official name for Social Security in the United States. The OASDI is a complete national benefits system that provides benefits to disabled people, retirees, as well as their survivors. This was the stays of the OASDI assignment.


Taking Benefits Early For Handicap

Disability is not the same story, while it is usually not best to elect to receive Social Security benefits as it reduces the maximum monthly benefit over the course of a very long time. For those people not able to work due to medical reasons, usually long-term impairments, disability benefits will be paid by Social Security under a program that’s different from the core OASDI retirement benefits’ system.

To qualify for disability benefits, the handicap must be one that will probably bring about death or that is considered to survive more than one year. Individuals who qualify can get up to 12 months of retroactive benefits, assuming they haven’t worked for at least 17 months due to the impairment. That’s due to a five-month waiting period for disability claims. If you have paid into the Social Security system like retirement benefits, you can only receive disability benefits. To put it differently, your own monthly disability benefit is, in addition, based on your Social Security earnings record.

In addition, disability benefits, like retirement benefits, are subject to tax predicated on income that is total:
Provisional income = AGI ½ Social Security benefit Tax-exempt interest
For married filing jointly, if this income is between then up and $44,000 $32,000 to 50 of the benefit is taxable. Up to 85% of the benefit is taxable. in the event, the provisional income is more than $44,000
When the worker reaches Complete Retirement Age (FRA), their disability benefits will automatically be converted to retirement benefits.


Benefits for kids under age 18

A surviving spouse gets a survivor or widow benefit of up to 100% of their dead partner’s staying benefits due. Yet, less generally understood is the reality that unmarried children under the age of 18 are qualified for survivor benefits. The kid calculation subject to specific rules is generally 75%. Take note that there’s a maximum limitation for every family that usually ranges from 150% to 180% of the basic benefit rate.

Furthermore, for all those who had children later in life, as soon as they’re qualified for retirement benefits, any of their kids that are single and under age 18, may also receive retirement benefits. The benefit is up to 50% of the retirement benefit amount, along with the same family maximum sum above uses.

Limitations for government workers and public employees, teachers

Social Security has assembled in some specific benefit reductions for public sector workers based on their individual pension qualifications.

The Windfall Elimination Provision, WEP was made for people that receive pensions from occupations in which they weren’t required to pay Social Security taxes – for instance, police officers, firefighters, teachers and state and local government workers whose companies were not part of the national Social Security system. This is when the WEP would kick in if these public employees were eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits predicated on different work they did over the course of their careers for which Social Security taxes were paid.

By way of example, if someone worked on the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), and did not have social security taxes withheld, but earned Social Security benefits through a different occupation later on, then their benefit computation would be based on a distinct formula which would reduce what they’d have otherwise received. By how much? That depends on their work history. But one rule that normally applies is that the decrease in Social Security benefit cannot exceed 50% of their pension.

Likewise, GPO, the Government Pension Offset, reduces the Social Security survivor benefits by up to two-thirds of their public pension. As an example, a spouse who worked in a government job, qualifying for a pension, and whose husband had paid into Social Security his whole career, would have their spousal or widow benefit reduced by two-thirds of their pension.


While consulting with a tax adviser is predominant, among the keys with taxation, as it relates to Social Security, is to be conscious the ranges are not indexed for inflation – and have remained the same since the 1980s. Understand these ranges. A little bit of income by the standards of today’s means that up to 80% of Social Security is taxed at your rate and may affect when or you take from Traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs and/.
For single filers, yearly provisional income (defined above) between $25,000 and $34,000 means that up to 50% of Social Security is subject to tax, and over $34,000 in provisional income means that up to 85% is subject to tax at your tax rate.

These Social Security-related issues are only a starting point to a joint retirement planning self-examination with your financial adviser. Take time to entirely understand your demands and goals so that Social Security can play a favorable part in your financial future.



Frequently the biggest source of confusion as it relates to Social Security is the consequence of divorce. In surveys, less than half of participants are conscious of their rights as a divorced partner.

A divorced spouse is qualified for the same benefits as a present partner to put it simply, subject to three fundamental rules. The rules are as follows:

  • The marriage survived for at least 10 years
  • You’ven’t remarried
  • You’re age 62 or older

Subject to such states a divorced spouse can bring in up to 50% of their former partner’s benefit.
Should they’ve their very own work record, they’re able to still limit their claim to only the divorced spouse benefit and collect delayed retirement benefits that they are able to change to at a subsequent date (not past age 70) to optimize their total benefits.



Surviving spouse benefits depend on two things. When the deceased partner initially claimed their benefit and also the age at which the benefit is claimed by the widow/er.

The simplest example is where they were both at Full Retirement Age (FRA) – now, 66. Now, the surviving spouse is permitted receive 100% of the deceased partner’s retirement benefit, assuming that’s higher than their own.

The more elaborate example is when both are taken. There’s an automatic floor of the higher of the deceased spouse’s benefit or 82.5% of the PIA (Primary Insurance Amount – the total monthly Social Security retirement benefit to which you become entitled at FRA). This would get further reduced if the surviving partner takes early advantage (as early as age 60).

For example, Joe just receives 75% of his $2,000 benefit or $1,500. and files at age 62 Julie is the remaining spouse and she would get the higher of $1,500 or $1,650 (82.5% of $2000), in this scenario, $1,650. But if she’s younger and maintains at age 60, she’d just get 71.5% of $1,650, or $1,180. The survivor benefit might have been considerably higher if Joe had waited until at least FRA. By waiting for previous FRA up to age 70, and he could have received delayed retirement credits of 8.

They’re able to get exactly the same survivor benefits for divorced partners, so long as the union lasted.