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Social Security FAQs

Overview FAQs

Predetermined Amount of Income: The amount of your Social Security benefit becomes better-defined as you approach retirement age. It is based on your earnings history as it is applied to a formula. While the amount may vary depending on when you apply for benefits, the relative accuracy of the estimate makes it easier for you to incorporate it into the rest of your retirement planning.

Lifetime Income: Social Security is one of the few sources of income that you can be assured of never outliving. This helps you address the uncertainty of longevity.

Inflation-Adjusted Income: Your benefits are increased each year based on the previous year's increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This helps you keep up with the cost of living.

Spousal Benefits: Benefits may be paid to a spouse during your liftime. This helps monetize the economic value of your spouse's contribution to the family outside of employment.

Survivor Benefits: Benefits continue to be paid to surviving spouse and dependents at your death. This helps ensure your plans remain in place, even after you are gone.

Social Security is essentially a 100% joint and survivor lifetime annuity with cost of living adjustments and a spousal benefit during the life of the covered worker — an attractive component to any retirement income plan.


Benefit Amount FAQs

  • All benefits are derived from the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)
  • PIA is based on Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) up to the Social Security maximum ($118,500) over your lifetime earnings history indexed for inflation (highest 35 years - zero earnings years are included)
  • Annual cost of living adjustments to PIA are based on CPI - W (Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers)


Full Retirement Age (FRA) FAQs

This is the age at which you may begin receiving your full, unreduced retirement benefit (PIA).

Born in:


1937 or earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943-1954 (ages 61-72) 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and after 67


Retirement Transition Window FAQs

Critical decisions that could significantly impact your retirement income security will need to be made during the eight years between ages 62 and 70.


Benefit Adjustments for Early/Delayed Retirement FAQs

You may begin collecting benefits as early as age 62 at a reduced amount. You will receive a higher amount if you delay filing until after FRA by accruing delayed retirement credits (8% credited annually to age 70).

Example: PIA = $1,000 Monthly


Age of Filing

Benefit Amount

62 $750
66 (FRA) $1,000
70 $1,320


Maximizing Social Security FAQs

Strategies to help ensure you enjoy all the benefits you are entitles to should be considered.

Strategy Definition Benefit
Early Filing Individuals who file for their benefits before FRA to realize income early Allows individuals to generate lifetime income for a longer period of time
Full Retirement Age Individuals who file for their own benefit at FRA to realize 100% of the benefits to which they are entitled Allows individuals to generate moderate cash flow in their mid-60's at about the time they are retiring
Delayed Filing Individuals who file for their own beneift after FRA to realize delayed retirement credits Allows the higher wage earner to not only generate a higher lifetime income, but also provide a greater survivor benefit
Barbell Couples who individually file at opposite ends of the transition period - one early at age 62, one delayed at age 70 Allows the lower wage earner to generate lifetime income for a longer period of time and realize the greatest survivor benefit
Leveraged Benefit Individuals who file for benefits early and potentially leverage them through long-term care insurance, life insurance, or an investment account Allows individuals to balance their need for cash flow during lifetime with the potential to redeploy benefits to provide family income in the event of unforeseen circumstances


Filing techniques such as "file and suspend" and the use of a "restricted application" allow for the potential maximization of these strategies.


Medicare Benefit FAQs

Medicare is our national insurance program beginning at age 65, and participation is mandatory if you want to have health insurance in this country. Even if you are currently covered by a retiree health plan, an individual policy, a small employer group plan, or COBRA (the only exception being if you are still employed and covered by an employer-sponsored health plan that includes at least 20 employees), you must enroll in Medicare when you turn 65.

Prior to retirement, but in no event later than age 65, ensure that you have coordinated your existing health insurance with Medicare.