Social Security FAQs

Social Security is a complex topic which affects how financially secure you and your loved ones will be during your golden years. It’s important to understand your full retirement age, how to manage your benefits and how your payment is calculated to get the most out of your Social Security benefits.

Lindsey Crossmier, writer for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Lindsey Crossmier

    Lindsey Crossmier

    Financial Writer

    Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.

    Read More
  • Edited By
    Savannah Hanson
    Savannah Hanson, financial editor for RetireGuide

    Savannah Hanson

    Senior Financial Editor

    Savannah Hanson is a professional writer and content editor with over 16 years of professional experience across multiple industries. She has ghostwritten for entrepreneurs and industry leaders and been published in mediums such as The Huffington Post, Southern Living and Interior Appeal Magazine.

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  • Published: March 3, 2023
  • Updated: March 8, 2023
  • 8 min read time
  • This page features 4 Cited Research Articles
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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Crossmier, L. (2023, March 8). Social Security FAQs. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from https://www.retireguide.com/social-security/faqs/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "Social Security FAQs." RetireGuide.com, 8 Mar 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/social-security/faqs/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "Social Security FAQs." RetireGuide.com. Last modified March 8, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/social-security/faqs/.

Key Takeaways
  • Your full retirement age, the age when you get 100% of your Social Security benefits, is calculated based on the year you were born. If you were born after 1960, you reach your full retirement age at 67.
  • There are different qualifications for retirement and disability benefits.
  • You will receive your Social Security payment on one of three Wednesdays. The date you were born determines which Wednesday you get paid.
  • Marriage can affect your survivors and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
  • You can continue to work and collect Social Security benefits.

Retirement Age

Your full retirement age (FRA), which is set by the Social Security Administration, plays a crucial role in your Social Security benefits. If you wait to collect your benefits after you reach your FRA, you will maximize your benefits.

What is the full retirement age?
Your full retirement age is the age that you can collect 100% of your Social Security. Your FRA varies depending on when you were born. For example, if you were born after 1960, you will reach your FRA when you turn 67.
Will the full retirement age go up?
While there will be no increase to the full retirement age in 2023, there are proposals to potentially raise the full retirement age in the future.
What is the break-even age?
The break-even age for most ranges between 77 and 83 years old. This is when the amount of benefits that you claim later equates what you could have received if you started receiving benefits earlier. Your break-even age is influenced by the age you are when you start collecting benefits.

Managing Benefits

Who qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits?
If you’re over 62 years old and have worked for at least 10 years, you qualify for social security retirement benefits.
Who qualifies for Social Security disability benefits?
If you can’t work due to a physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least one year, or your entire life, you will likely qualify for Social Security benefits.
How can you get a Social Security Statement?
You can access your Social Security Statement online, through your Social Security account or you can have the statement mailed to your front door.
Can you live abroad and collect Social Security benefits?
You can receive Social Security benefits while living abroad if you’re an eligible U.S. citizen and reside in a country that allows benefits to be sent.
Can you suspend your Social Security benefits?
If you’re eligible for benefits, you can voluntarily suspend your retirement benefits until you’re 70 years old.
What is a representative payee?
A representative payee is an individual who receives Social Security benefits for someone who is unable to manage their own benefits. A representative payee is appointed by the Social Security Administration.

Payments and Deductions

There isn’t one day where everyone receives their Social Security payment. There are different specified days when payments occur, which vary depending on your date of birth and which benefit you’re receiving.

The payment amounts also fluctuate, depending on when you want to retire. You will face deductions if you decide to retire early.

What is the benefit payment schedule?
The 2023 Social Security payment schedule indicates that benefits will be paid out on one of three Wednesdays. If you were born on the 1st through the 10th, you’ll receive your benefit on the second Wednesday of each month. If you were born on the 11th through the 20th, you’ll receive your benefit on the third Wednesday of each month. If you were born on the 21st through the 31st, you’ll receive your benefit on the fourth Wednesday of each month.
Which ways can you receive Social Security payments?
You can only receive your Social Security payment electronically — either through direct deposit or onto a Direct Express Debit Mastercard.
What’s the earliest age you can receive Social Security benefits?
62 is the earliest age you can start collecting Social Security retirement benefits. For Social Security disability benefits, you can start receiving benefits at 18. For Social Security survivors benefits, the earliest you can start collecting benefits is when you turn 60.
What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit?
Your maximum Social Security benefit amount in 2023 varies, depending on when you choose to start collecting benefits. If you collect benefits at your full retirement age, your maximum benefit amount is $3,627. If you retire at 62, your maximum benefit amount is $2,572. If you start collecting benefits when you turn 70, your maximum benefit amount is $4,555.
Can early retirement reduce your retirement benefits?
An early retirement can reduce your benefits by 30%.
Can your Medicare premium be deducted from your Social Security payments?
Your Medicare Part B premium is automatically deducted from your Social Security benefit. You can also sign up to have your Medicare Part C or D deducted from your Social Security benefit.

Calculations

Social Security benefit calculations are complex — there are multiple ways to maximize your payout. Learn how benefits are calculated, along with what the annual cost-of-living-adjustment is.

How are Social Security benefits calculated?
Your Social Security benefit amount is calculated using average indexed monthly earnings, which summarizes up to 35 years of a worker’s highest indexed earnings. A formula is then applied to this average to determine your primary insurance amount (PIA).
How much of your income can Social Security benefits replace?
Social Security benefits replace an average of 37% of income for an adult with average earnings.
What can you do to increase your Social Security benefits?
Delay starting your benefits until you’re 70, earn a higher salary and continue to work while receiving benefits to increase your Social Security benefit amount.
How is the COLA calculated?
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are calculated on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). CPI-Ws are calculated monthly. This adjustment helps benefits retain their value as inflation fluctuates.

Family

While your family doesn’t typically affect retirement or disability benefits, they do play a large role in survivors benefits. Learn more about how your family can affect your benefits. In some cases, you can even lose your benefits altogether.

Does marriage impact your Social Security benefits?
Marriage will affect your survivors benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits. For example, if you’re a divorced widow(er), you could still receive survivors benefits, as long as you don’t remarry. If you remarry, you no longer qualify. However, marriage does not affect Social Security disability or retirement benefits.
How do you report the death of a beneficiary to the SSA?
Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to report the death of a beneficiary to the SSA. You cannot report a death to start receiving survivors benefits online.
What are survivors benefits?
Survivors benefits provide a stream of monthly payments to the widows, widowers and dependents of the deceased. The benefit amount is based on the deceased’s work history.

Work

Your work and pensions can affect your Social Security benefits. For example, working while collecting benefits could have a negative or positive influence on your benefit amount. You may also face limitations if you choose to work in another country.

Do pensions impact your Social Security retirement benefits?
A government pension can potentially reduce your Social Security benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your pension.
Can you work and collect Social Security benefits?
Yes, you can work and collect retirement or survivors Social Security benefits. Generally, you cannot continue to work and collect disability benefits. Know your benefit could be reduced if you earn too much while working and collecting benefits when under your full retirement age. Once you reach your full retirement age, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
Can you earn work credits in other countries?
You can earn work credits in other countries, but you could face issues transferring your credits from that country to the U.S.

Administration

Learn more about the Social Security Administration (SSA) to best understand how they’re funded and how long benefits can be paid out. There are important resources provided by the SSA, like free Social Security card replacements.

How can you contact Social Security?
You can contact Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. They also have online resources, or you can mail them.
Can you replace your Social Security card?
You can replace your Social Security card easily online through the Social Security website. This is a free service. You can receive up to three replacement Social Security cards within one year.
How is Social Security funded?
Social Security is funded by a dedicated payroll tax.
Will Social Security run out of money?
The Social Security reserves are expected to be depleted in 2035. After 2035, the SSA projects that beneficiaries will only receive 80% of their benefits. By 2096, only 74% of benefits will be available to beneficiaries.
Last Modified: March 8, 2023

4 Cited Research Articles

  1. Social Security Administration. (2023, January 3). What Is the Maximum Social Security Retirement Benefit Payable? Retrieved from https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-01897
  2. Social Security Administration. (2023, January). How Work Affects Your Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10069.pdf
  3. Social Security Administration. (2023). Latest Cost-Of-Living Adjustment. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/latestCOLA.html
  4. Social Security Administration. (2022, December 30). If I Get Married, Will It Affect My Benefits? Retrieved from https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-02172