Brocker.Org: Your 2017 Guide to Social Security Benefits – Motley Fool


About ninety% of People in america around sixty five acquire Social Stability retirement rewards, so they are a big part of most Americans’ retirement organizing. Due to the fact of this, it is critical to know how Social Stability is effective, how rewards are identified, and what to assume in the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, here is your 2017 guideline to aid you realize your recent or foreseeable future Social Stability rewards.

Image source: Getty Visuals.

Are you qualified for Social Stability?

To be qualified to acquire Social Stability retirement rewards, you have to have to be at the very least 62 a long time previous. You are going to also have to have to have earned 40 Social Stability “credits” to acquire a gain on your possess function document.

In 2017, a single Social Stability credit rating is equal to $1,300 in cash flow, and this quantity has elevated around the a long time. You can make a optimum of 4 Social Stability credits in a single calendar year. In other words, to qualify for a Social Stability gain, you are going to have to have to have worked for at the very least 10 a long time where by you earned about the equivalent of $5,200 in 2017 pounds or extra.

Spouses have a specific rule for eligibility. I am going to discuss spousal rewards in extra depth afterwards, but if you didn’t function much (or at all) but your spouse did, you can acquire a spousal gain equal to half of your spouse’s whole retirement gain.

What modified for 2017?

Here is a extensive discussion of the 2017 Social Stability changes, but the main factors related to retirement rewards are:

  • Social Stability recipients get a .three% cost-of-residing adjustment (COLA).
  • The optimum taxable Social Stability earnings are $127,200, up from $118,five hundred.
  • The thresholds for the “earnings test” have elevated to $16,920 for beneficiaries who will reach retirement age immediately after 2017, and $44,880 for beneficiaries who will reach retirement age through 2017. The earnings test is critical for persons who function and acquire Social Stability, and a whole discussion can be identified afterwards in this guideline.

How your Social Stability gain is calculated

Not like most pension systems that consider just the final couple a long time of earnings, Social Stability considers your overall function document.

Precisely, your lifetime earnings, up to the Social Stability taxable optimum for each calendar year, are indexed for inflation. Then, your 35 greatest-earning a long time are averaged collectively and divided by 12 to make your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).

This average is then applied to a method to figure out your Social Stability gain at whole retirement age. For 2017, the method is:

  • ninety% of the 1st $885
  • 32% of the quantity involving $885 and $5,336
  • fifteen% of the quantity over $5,336

These amounts are added collectively to estimate your whole Social Stability retirement gain, also identified as your major insurance quantity, or PIA. If you choose to claim Social Stability right before or immediately after your whole retirement age, this gain can be completely decreased or elevated, which I am going to discuss afterwards.

What is the biggest attainable Social Stability gain?

In 2017, the optimum Social Stability gain that can outcome from the method I talked over over is $two,687 for each month. In purchase to get this gain, nonetheless, you have to have to have earned the Social Stability optimum taxable wages or extra in each of 35 distinct a long time.

Because your gain is completely decreased if you claim early, the optimum attainable Social Stability gain at age 62 is $1,993 for 2017. Conversely, if a person waited until eventually age 70 to claim rewards for the 1st time in 2017, the optimum attainable gain is $three,547 for each month.

How much must you assume to get?

You will find no one hundred% correct way to estimate your Social Stability retirement gain if you are continue to performing. Nevertheless, the most effective estimate utilizing your function history and age can be identified on your Social Stability statement, which is up-to-date each calendar year.

You can obtain your most recent Social Stability statement by producing an account at Your statement has a ton of beneficial information and facts, such as:

  • Your believed gain quantity at whole retirement age
  • A in depth history of how much you have earned each calendar year
  • Estimates for incapacity and survivors’ rewards, must you have to have them

Ss Statement

Knowledge source: Social Stability Administration.

All over again, these figures are just estimates, and your eventual gain quantity could be really distinct, in particular if you are comparatively younger now.

What is your whole retirement age?

This is extra important in 2017 than in new a long time. People in america reaching the age of eligibility (62) is 2017 essentially have a distinct whole retirement age than persons who have attained 62 in new a long time. Here is how to figure out your whole retirement age.

For persons born involving 1943 and 1954, whole retirement age is 66 a long time previous. For people born immediately after that time period of time, the whole (or regular) retirement age steadily increases to 67 for people born in 1960 or afterwards.

Here is a chart to aid you figure out your whole retirement age for Social Stability.

If you had been born in…

Your whole (regular) retirement age is…


66 a long time


66 a long time, two months


66 a long time, 4 months


66 a long time, 6 months


66 a long time, eight months


66 a long time, 10 months

1960 or afterwards

67 a long time

Your whole retirement is beneficial to know, due to the fact your calculated Social Stability gain quantity from the past area (also identified as the major insurance quantity) assumes you start off gathering rewards at this age specifically.

Lower rewards for proclaiming early, more substantial rewards for proclaiming late

I talked about before that you can claim Social Stability as early as 62 or as late as age 70. If you claim right before your whole retirement age, your gain will be completely decreased, and if you wait until eventually immediately after your whole retirement age to claim rewards, yours will be completely elevated.

The exact increase or decrease of your preliminary gain quantity is identified by the subsequent percentages, which are applied to your calculated whole retirement gain:

  • Your gain will be decreased by 6 two/three% for each calendar year right before your whole retirement age (5/nine% for each month) for up to 36 months right before whole retirement age.
  • Over and above 36 months, your gain is further decreased by 5% for each calendar year (5/12% for each month), as early as age 62.
  • For delayed retirement, your gain is completely elevated by eight% for each calendar year (two/three% for each month) beyond your whole retirement age, until eventually a optimum of age 70.

How to claim your rewards

The best way to use for Social Stability rewards is on the internet at The software normally takes about fifteen minutes, according to the SSA, and there are no extra sorts to indicator, and commonly are no extra documentation necessities.

If you never want to use on the internet, you do have other possibilities. You can use by cellphone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday as a result of Friday, or in particular person at your neighborhood Social Stability place of work. If you choose to use in particular person, the SSA advises that you must make an appointment. You can glimpse up the SS place of work closest to you in this article.

Social Stability is not just retirement rewards

You will find extra to Social Stability than retirement rewards. In fact, there are 4 other kinds of Social Stability rewards to be knowledgeable of:

  • Spousal rewards: If you and your spouse equally file for Social Stability at whole retirement age, each spouse is assured a minimal of half of the other’s gain. For case in point, if a retiree is entitled to a monthly gain of $two,000, their spouse will get at the very least $1,000, even if their possess gain quantity would be much considerably less.
  • Survivors’ rewards: If a worker dies, his widow, small children, and other dependents could be qualified for rewards. Survivors rewards are an overall matter by themselves, so here is a whole discussion of this characteristic of Social Stability.
  • Disability rewards: If you come to be disabled and can no for a longer period function, your Social Stability document could entitle you to rewards as a result of Social Stability Disability Insurance. You can obtain your theoretical incapacity gain quantity on your Social Stability statement.
  • SSI rewards: Supplemental Stability Revenue, or SSI, is a have to have-primarily based program that gives added cash flow to disabled or retired folks with limited belongings and cash flow.

Can you claim Social Stability if you are continue to performing in 2017?

Indeed, but your rewards could be decreased, depending on your age and cash flow, according to the Social Stability “earnings test.” As I talked about before, the earnings test limitations have been substantially elevated for 2017.

When it comes to performing and gathering Social Stability, the SSA considers a few distinct types of beneficiaries:

  • For SS recipients who will not however reach whole retirement age in the 2017 calendar calendar year, the 1st $16,920 in earnings is exempt ($1,410 for each month). Over and above that quantity, every single $two in earnings will lessen Social Stability rewards by $1.
  • For SS recipients who will achieve whole retirement age through 2017, the 1st $44,880 in annual earnings ($three,740 for each month) are exempt, and the reduction is just $1 for every single $three in earnings beyond that. For this test, only the months right before the month of your birthday count.
  • Finally, SS recipients who choose to function earlier whole retirement age will practical experience no gain reduction, no make any difference how much they make.

It really is also critical to note that any reduction in rewards is not misplaced — alternatively, a reduction will increase your foreseeable future gain quantity. For a extra extensive description of the rules about performing and gathering Social Stability, verify out this article

Is Social Stability heading broke?

If a person tells you that Social Stability is broke or bankrupt, never believe them.

The truth is that Social Stability has money in the lender, and a good quantity of it. At the stop of 2015, the Social Stability belief fund experienced reserves of about $two.eight trillion. In addition, for the time becoming, the program is using in extra money than it is paying out out. In fact, Social Security’s cash flow is projected to exceed the program’s fees as a result of 2019 2015’s surplus was about $23 billion.

Nevertheless, the negative information is that it is not expected to final. Excluding interest cash flow, there is expected to be a deficit relative to collected payroll taxes heading forward, averaging $69 billion for each calendar year as a result of 2019 and rising sharply immediately after that. Starting in 2020, Social Stability will start jogging an over-all deficit, and will have to have to tap into its reserves in purchase to satisfy its obligations to retirees. This is expected to outcome in finish depletion of the belief fund in 2034.

In a nutshell, Social Stability will not operate into really serious difficulty for nearly two many years. Even so, it is critical to clarify that immediately after 2034, retirees will not just quit getting checks. In fact, the incoming payroll taxes will continue to be enough to cover about a few-quarters of promised rewards. So, as a worst-situation circumstance, retirees would see a 25% pay minimize from Social Stability starting in 2034.

What could improve through the Trump presidency and beyond?

It really is tricky to say specifically what changes are heading to transpire, but anything will have to have to be carried out to ensure the solvency of Social Stability for foreseeable future generations. There are quite a few means to deal with Social Stability, and there are factors to believe each a single could essentially transpire. Survey benefits present that the American public is typically in favor of raising Social Stability taxes, in particular on superior earners, if it suggests that rewards will be safe for foreseeable future generations. On the other hand, with a Republican Congress, proposed answers are likely to incorporate gain reductions, such as raising the whole retirement age or suggests-tests rewards.

A different mysterious are the intentions (and willingness to compromise) of President-elect Donald Trump. For the duration of his marketing campaign, Trump promised not to lessen Social Stability rewards or raise taxes, so it will be attention-grabbing to see what changes get put, if any, around the subsequent 4 or 8 a long time.