In recent years with the uncertainty in the economy and Baby Boomers coming into retirement age, Social Security has been a hot topic.
What is there not to worry about!? Will it be there when you are ready to retire? Should you take it early? Should you postpone benefits?
A recent article by Dan Kadlec for Time showed that the number of retirees taking early social security has fallen for the second consecutive year to a 35 year low. According to Kadlec, this is possibly a return to the downward trend that was broken up by the recession, which caused many workers to opt for early retirement in frustration over their inability to find work. Social security can be taken as early as 62 with reduced payments, but benefits can by maximized by delaying payouts to age 70. Social security plays a varying role in retirement planning. For some it is supplemental to 401K and savings, but for others, it may be their only source of income.
In May of 2012, the Social Security Administration announced that the online version of the Social Security Statement was now available on their website at: http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/. You have to jump through a few security hoops to get your statement, but it is there for your convenience. The statement provides estimates for retirement and disability plus gives the user an opportunity to verify that their income has been properly reported. Setting up an account also helps you with information about qualifying for benefits and allows you to apply for benefits online when you are ready to take that step.
Not quite ready to retire, but looking for some planning guidelines?
The Social Security Administration also offers a variety of benefit calculators and tools for estimating retirement benefits.
Even if Social Security is only a supplemental part of your retirement plan, it is important to keep tabs on your account. Keeping the full picture of your retirement in view will give you a clear idea of what to expect.