Social Security, Retirement Planning

Retirement Checklist: 6 Things To Do Before Claiming Social Security

Dave Grant, CFP®

Retirement is here!

This is a big step for the health and well being of your future, which you have probably looked forward to for a very long time. Now that it's here, you can rest assured in the fact that all your hard work has paid off. You hopefully have all your 401(k), pensions, and investments ready to work for you in retirement, but there are also a few things you need to do before you start to claim your Social Security funds. Before you start claiming those funds be sure you check these six things off of your list to get all squared away. Once completed you'll be well-equipped to receive those funds each month to start your retirement off on the right financial foot. 

Checklist Tip #1: Find Out Your Benefit Credits

This is very important to look into. Make sure you have the 40 credits to retire and receive Social Security. You can go to ssa.gov to find out if you have the right amount of credits to qualify.

Checklist Tip #2: Check Up On Your Spousal Benefits

You may be able to get Social Security spousal benefits as well if you were married for over 10 years. This is true even if you are divorced from that spouse. Take time to compare which benefit would be higher - 100% of yours, or 50% of your current or ex-spouse (only applicable if you're still unmarried).

Checklist Tip #3: Know The Application Is Online

You can complete the application for Social Security retirement benefits online at ssa.gov. This is great news as the application only takes about 15 minutes. How easy is that?

Checklist Tip #4: Make Sure You Are The Right Age

You can start to apply for Social Security retirement benefits at 61 years old and nine months, or wait until you are age 70. Most people reach their Full Retirement Age between the age of 66-67, where they will receive benefits without any permanent reduction. The difference in benefits between age 62 and 70 is wide, so be sure to work with a financial advisor to ensure you are collecting at the right time. 

Checklist Tip #5: Know That You Are Ready To Stop Work

This is an important one. Some people don't want to retire. That's completely up to your lifestyle, health, and comfort level. Know that continuing to work and collecting Social Security before your Full Retirement Age can affect the amount you receive in benefits.

Checklist Tip #6: Use The Retirement Estimator

Using an online retirement estimator can be valuable in determining your future monthly income. Knowing your Social Security benefit and amount you can safely draw from your investments will give you an idea as to what lifestyle to expect in retirement.

When you are ready to retire, if you still have questions the Social Security government site can't answer for you, may sure you chat with a knowledgeable financial advisor to help you set up your future.


By Dave Grant, CFP®
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