Key Point: When Americans near retirement age, they are usually bombarded with the advice that they should wait as long as possible to claim Social Security benefits due to the fact that the monthly payouts will be much bigger.
If this is true, what if one waits till past age seventy-five or even eighty to collect Social Security? Will the monthly payments continue to get larger?
Unfortunately, the answer is a hard no.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), “when you reach age seventy, your monthly benefit stops increasing even if you continue to delay taking benefits.”
But do be aware that if “you start receiving benefits at age sixty-six you get 100 percent of your monthly benefit. If you delay receiving retirement benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase.”
Then at age sixty-seven, the benefit rises to 108 percent, and at seventy, it will top out at 132 percent of the monthly benefit.
However, keep in mind that “if you decide to delay your retirement, be sure to sign up for Medicare at age sixty-five. In some circumstances, medical insurance costs more if you delay applying for it.”
As for the maximum payouts for the different ages, take note that those individuals who decide to collect Social Security at sixty-two, the earliest age to do so, the maximum amount will be $2,324, according to the SSA.
But if one can wait until the full retirement age—currently sixty-six and two months (full retirement age will eventually climb to sixty-seven over the next several years)—the maximum benefit is $3,113. For those who file at seventy, that payout currently stands at $3,895.
Can Social Security Fund Retirement?
For those Americans who wait till age seventy and are able to collect nearly $4,000 a month, that sounds like a great deal. But many won’t be getting that much due to how much they earned over the course of their careers. So, that begs the question: Is it enough to live—or survive—on?
Do understand that Social Security benefits were largely designed to supplement pensions from companies and retirement savings. Today, however, it seems that more Americans are increasingly relying on their Social Security benefit payments to financially support their final years.
In fact, according to the SSA, about 20 percent of married couples and 40 percent of singles receive at least 90 percent of their income from the Social Security program.
“The nation is really facing a retirement income crisis, where too many people aren’t going to be able to retire and maintain savings to live on,” Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, an advocacy organization for expanding the program, recently told the Guardian.
“It’s a very strong system, but its benefits are extremely low by virtually any way you measure them,” she added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.