While some fiscal conservatives refer to Social Security as an entitlement program, it functions more likely a pension plan. Social Security retirement benefits are earned by working a specific number of years and contributing to the system through payroll taxes; you are not “entitled” to them. The years in which you do not get benefits are treated as zeroes and have the potential to reduce your Social Security payment each month.
Eligibility For Social Security Retirement Benefits
The SSA states that to be eligible for Social Security retirement payments, you must have worked 40 credits over at least 10 years. Benefits are calculated using monthly average indexed earnings for a maximum of 35 complete working years. The computation uses the 35 years with the highest earnings. You can increase the amount you receive from Social Security if you work for 35 years. No matter how much you made during your career, your benefit will be smaller if you work fewer than 35 years.
If you worked for less than 35 years, having a zero on your earnings record could significantly reduce your benefits. This is because the zero will reduce your monthly average index earnings. In this situation, you ought to think about working longer before filing for Social Security. The Social Security Administration notes that every year you work will substitute a year of zero or low earnings to calculate your benefit amount, potentially increasing it.
Social Security Benefits At Age 62
Social Security benefits are available for claimants as early as age 62, but the amount they get will be less if they wait until a later age. At full retirement age, you receive your full benefit; at age 70, you receive your maximum payout. It makes it logical to continue working until the zeros are removed from your earnings record if, at age 62 or older, you still have zeros there. The zeroes become irrelevant after 35 years of generating an income because they are not taken into account when calculating your benefits. But that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t carry on with your task.
By balancing years when you made significantly less money, high-earning years can increase your Social Security benefit. Remember that the majority of Americans reach their prime earning years in their 40s and 50s. Even in your 60s, you should be able to make about that much money. On the other hand, your wages are usually lowest in your late teen years and early 20s, when you may be starting from the bottom of the pay scale or doing part-time jobs. You can significantly alter the amount of your Social Security benefit by substituting high-earning years in your 60s for low-earning years in your younger years.