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Social Security

Social Security benefit can be a major part of your retirement income.

The Social Security Administration ("SSA") used to mail statements annually that showed your projected Social Security retirement benefit, but this was discontinued in mid 2011 to cut costs.  To allow continued access to personal benefit information, the SSA created my Social Security, an online site for viewing benefit information and  more.

The good news is that for those who do not want to set up a my Social Security account, in Septemer 2014, the SSA started mailing statements again.  These will be mailed to workers attaining ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 who are not receiving Social Security benefit and who have not registered for a my Social Security online account.  They will receive a statement in the mail about three months before their birthday. After age 60, people will receive a statement every year.

Here is the page from the SSA website where you create your my Social Security account.

my Social Secutity page

Personally, I had a very difficult time setting up my Social Security account.  The SSA has made access to these accounts very secure and I appreciate this, but it sometimes makes it difficult to establish the account. 

In order to set up an account, you enter the basic information and answer some obvious questions.  Then you are asked questions that come from history in your Experian credit report. We were in  the process of  selling our old home, moving, establishing new addresses,  from our old home, to an apartment, to the retirement house we built, so there were many changes on the credit report.  I was not able to accurately answer the all questions since they covered dates of events, and I could not remember all the dates correctly.

Ultimately, I went to the local Social Security Office and showed my proof of identity.  I was issued a activation code that allowed me to establish the account.  It works great now, and I highly recommend that you establish one for yourself.

As a side note, you cannot set up an account online if you have a security freeze, fraud alert, or both on your Experian account.  You can either remove the freeze and establish it online or you go in person to a Social Security Office to identify yourself and get an activation code.

You can also estimate your social security benefit at retirement using the Social Security online Retirement Estimator.

Full Retirement Age

If you have contributed to the Social Security (SS) program and earned 40 credits, you can start drawing benefit at age 62.  However, your benefit will be reduced 20% below full retirement benefit.

Boomers have to work to age 66 or 67 to get full retirement benefit depending on the year of birth.

Here is the table to calculate when you will be able to receive full retirement benefit:

Year of Birth* Full Retirement Age
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 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 or later 67
*Refer to the previous year if you were born on January 1.

Next Step

You can choose from several calculators on the SSA Calculator Page.  The easiest is the Quick Calculator.  Some of the others require detailed input and work so that it is easier to invest the time and open a my Social Security account which is the most accurate.

Your Social Security benefit can be a very important part of your retirement finances.  Any retirement calculator that does not include it should not be used.

After you use your SSA statement, my Social Security account, or one of the Social Security calculators to determine your social security benefit at retirement, you can return to the home page to proceed to the next step to prepare to use the best retirement calculators.

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