Social Security is a benefit program of the United States government to provide financial assistance to people who have reached retirement age, who have a disability or have lost their spouse.
To apply for this, you must have a Social Security number, have worked for a specific amount of years, and have also paid taxes.
In this article, we will focus on the retirement benefits and how much you can earn at age 66.
Criteria to apply
These benefits are the result of planning, during your youth, your earnings and savings to have financial assistance when retirement comes.
To apply for this service, you must consider certain elements such as:
There is an element called Full Retirement Age (FRA), which indicates when you can apply for full benefits, without any restrictions.
How is it calculated? Years ago, the regular age was 65, but later the Congress changed it based on the health and life expectancy of the American citizen.
So if you were born:
- In 1937 or earlier: your FRA is 65.
- 1938 – 1942: the number gradually increases, 65 years and two months, 65 years and three months, and so on.
- 1943 – 1954: your FRA is 66.
- 1955 – 1959: the number gradually increases, 66 years and two months, 66 years and three months, and so on.
- In 1960 or later: your FRA is 67.
For people who were born on January 1st, they must apply to refer to the previous month.
Despite your specific FRA, you can also apply for benefits as soon as you get 62 years, but in this case, they will be reduced, since you are obtaining benefits from a younger age than your assigned.
On the contrary, if you apply after your FRA, your income will be higher, since you have some “extra” months without charging.
These are some of the things that you should consider before doing the process, along with some others that we mention at the end of the article.
You must complete a total of 40 credits to apply for retirement benefits, and this will depend on the number of years that you have worked.
Basically, for each year of work, you receive 4 credits, so you would need to have worked (and paid taxes) for 10 years.
Until you complete an application, you will not know how much the benefit will be, but you can use the Retirement Estimator to get an idea.
Retirement outside the US
If you live outside the United States, you still have the right to receive Social Security benefits, including citizens and permanent residents.
For more information, check: Your Payments While You Are Outside The United States or contact the embassy or consulate of the United States.
➡ ALSO, you may be interested: How to get a state ID card.
How to apply
You can do it online directly; generally, it does not take more than 15 minutes. Click the “Apply for Retirement Benefits” button, fill the application, and submit it.
But if you prefer to do it another way or if you do not understand something about the online application, you can:
- Make a phone call for free to 1-800-772-1213 / 1-800-325-0778 (TTY, for hearing impaired people).
- Visit your local Social Security office. No appointment is required.
Earnings at age 66
Social Security pays approximately 40% of the salary you received before retirement; however, this can vary mainly due to your FRA.
So, if you want to estimate how much you are going to earn at 66, you can do it with the online calculator when you apply for it: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/calculators/
However, other factors can increase or decrease that amount, for example:
If you receive the benefits before your FRA
As mentioned above, you can request them from the age of 62, but the amount will be permanently reduced.
If you receive the benefits after your FRA
On the contrary, if you wait years later, the amount increases.
Working after retirement
This point is one of the most important. Yes, you can work while still receiving Social Security benefits; however, there are specific considerations:
During 2020, if you are under your FRA and work, $ 1 will be deducted from your benefits for every $ 2 you earn above the $ 18,240 limit.
If you get your FRA this year, $ 1 will be deducted for every $ 3 you earn over the $ 48,600 limit (until the month you reach the corresponding age).
And if you are older than your FRA, you can work and receive the benefits, no matter how much you earn.
To give a more explicit example, here is a table with ranges that will help you see an estimate of your earnings:
- Consider your retirement age, as this will affect your benefits and whether you can maintain your lifestyle or not.
- Check where you plan to live after retirement: in your own house, in a cheaper place, etc. Since this is one of the most important expenses and your benefits can help you to cover it.
- If you’re 65 years, your application will include Medicare, so you might consider waiting at that age to get both.
- If your spouse is also retiring, you can plan together the exact age to do it. You can read more information about here
- Every month you’ll receive your benefit payment according to your date of birth:
If you were born between the days:
1 – 10: you get paise the second Wednesday.
11 – 20: you get paid the third Wednesday.
21 – 31: you get paid the fourth Wednesday.
- You must also report any changes that may be linked to your benefits, such as:
Your earnings, your residence, if you get married, if committed a crime, if you travel outside of the US, etc.
Co-founder of AllAboutCareers, one of the top sites for graduates, students and school leavers websites. I studied at the University of Essex. This is my site I talk about finance and help with administrative processes in the USA.