Over the past few years, there have been some big changes in the Social Security retirement benefits system. For many years, the retirement age at which a person first becomes entitled to full retirement benefits has been 65. However, beginning with people born in 1938, that age has gradually been increasing until it reached 67 for people born in 1960 and later. (Here is a handy calculator that helps you determine at what age you reach full retirement.)
As the full retirement age continues to increase, there are greater reductions in benefits if you claim them before you reach full retirement age. The earlier you apply, the less your monthly benefit amount will be. This means that the longer you can wait to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits, the better, because you will receive more in your monthly check.
However, if you are currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and turning 62, you have no choice to delay your application; you have to apply for Social Security retirement benefits now.
One of the requirements of SSI (which is a needs-based program) is that if there are any other cash benefits that are available to you – this includes Social Security retirement benefits – you must apply for them. So you will have to start collecting your early retirement benefit, even though the retirement benefit would be larger if you were able to wait until your full retirement age.
NOTE: If you are receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) you are already receiving your full retirement age benefit, so when you turn 62 nothing will change. When you reach full retirement age, the amount of benefit you receive will stay the same, but the name on the direct deposit will change from SSDI to Social Security retirement.
The Fairfax Social Security Law Firm of Sheri R. Abrams knows that this is all very confusing, and we are here to help you navigate through this transition process. If you are approaching retirement age and have questions about social security benefits, call our office at (571) 328-5795, and we’ll be happy to help you understand the options available to you.