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When to Take Social Security in Retirement - Think "MATH"

MATH translates to :

* Market
* Affordability
* Taxes
* Health

Health -> Take Social Security early if your life expectancy is limited

Affordability -> If you NEED the money now, maybe you need to start benefits

Taxes -> If you're still working, your up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits may be taxed

Market -> If the stock market is way down, maybe you need to start benefits soon

Five Social Security "Secrets"

Here are five Social Security "secrets" according to Motley Fool :

1. Your benefits increase each month you wait

2. Your benefits are taxable (at higher income levels)

3. You may be able to claim benefits based on ex-spouse's work history

4. You may be able to claim benefits despite no work history (ex. spousal, surviving child)

5. Social Security is not going "bankrupt" (but benefits may be cut)

US CFPB Cautions About Using Reverse Mortgage to Delay Social Security Benefits

Lately, some financial advisers have suggested that seniors delay taking Social Security retirement benefits. Instead of taking Social Security at age 62, for example, these advisers suggest using a reverse mortgage to "fund" your retirement and delay initiation of Social Security benefits until later. Delaying benefit initiation means a larger retirement benefit.

However, the US Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has cautioned that this strategy has drawbacks. The CFPB says the best way to increase future benefits is to keep working past age 62, if possible.

Avoiding Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits Through Loans

This is an interesting paper which looks at how a relatively well-off retiree can avoid paying income taxes on Social Security taxes by taking out a loan against their life insurance policy (or, presumably against other assets).

Under scenarios studied, instead of making taxable withdrawals from their 401k, a couple could obtain similar "cash flow" by borrowing against their life insurance policy (or presumably other assets).

SSS.gov and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) generally combines a cell phone with a username and password to increase the security associated with a login. You need both the username/password AND the cell phone (to receive texts) to log into a system.

In 2016 the Social Security Administration first required 2FA, and then dropped this requirement.

The use of 2FA when signing into ssa.gov is still under study, but not currently required.

Residents of 20 States and DC Can Get Replacement Social Security Cards Online

Residents of the following states can get replacement Social Security cards online :

You can can a replacement Social Security card online at ssa.gov if you :

* Are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address;
* Are not requesting a name change or any other change to your card; and
* Have a driver's license or a state-issued identification card from one of the following:

Tips on Filing for Social Security Benefits

This is a good article with several tips on when and how to apply for Social Security benefits.

When to file :

* For a retirement or Medicare claim, file three months before you want your benefits to begin.

* For disability, file as soon as possible.

You can largely file online, with the notable exception of a survivor claim for a widow, widower or surviving child. Call Social Security to schedule an appointment.

Explanation of Windfall Elimination Provision and Social Security Benefits

This is a very good article which explains, in common language, the reason for the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). WEP may be called "double dipping" in common terms.

The article also gives an overview of how Social Security provides a better "rate of return" to low income workers.

Excerpts :

But in a nutshell, I can tell you that Maria’s $1,150 benefit represents about 90 percent of her average lifetime monthly wage. Whereas Frank’s $2,400 Social Security check is probably about 40 percent of his average monthly pre-retirement income.

One-Page Overview of Social Security Disability

Here's a good overview of Social Security disability which answers the following questions :

Who does the SSA consider disabled?

What is the SSA’s definition of disability?

What evidence does the SSA require to prove my medical condition?

What if my medical condition is not in the Blue Book?

Does the SSA have any other requirements for disability benefits?

What if I am able to earn a small income?

If I am unable to work, am I guaranteed disability benefits?

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Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration