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What Are Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Learn about Social Security retirement benefits in this Howcast finance video with expert Gregory McGraime.


Social Security Retirement Benefits are a great benefit and they make up the sole source for most retirees' income. So, let me explain a little bit. I mean, you often might take a look at your paycheck or see a Social Security or FICA tax that's on there and that money is going to a future promise of benefits for you when you retire. Basically, this is the government's way of providing some type of retirement income to most individuals. And, the amount that you're going to get from Social Security is based on your highest 35 years of working. So, they're looking at your income every year that you're working, and when you build up enough credit, or enough work experience, you're eligible for a future promise of benefits. Now, Social Security has a full retirement age. And it's between 65 and 67. That's the age when you can collect your full retirement benefit amount. But, here's the catch: you can collect it early if you want,as early as 62 and you can get a reduced amount. Or you can wait until you're 70 and collect more money. So, every one of you watching has to make this choice. When do you want to collect Social Security? And let me try to give you an example, just to put some context around it. If I told you today that you could collect at age 65, $1500 a month for the rest of your life, or if you wanted to collect it early, you could get $1200 a month. So, what would you like? Do you want $1200 a month starting at age 62 or do you want to wait and get $1500 a month at age 65 or 66 for example? And, you have to make that decision based on your reasonable assumptions. How healthy you are. Whether you need the money to live on in retirement. Because, ultimately, none of us has that crystal ball to know exactly what the right decision is. But this is the decision that all of you will be faced. So, what should you do? Number 1: Get a copy of your Estimated Benefits from Social Security and you can do that from the Social Security website. You may also have actually received those green forms in the mail around your birthday each year that kind of shows you your benefits. Number 2: Make sure all the earnings is correct. Sometimes there are errors that need to be corrected. Number 3: As you get closer to retirement, really take a good assessment of when you can retire and when collecting your Social Security benefits fits in with your overall retirement plan. Those are the basics of how Social Security works and as it gets closer, you really want to pay close attention to where that's going to fit in with your overall retirement plan.

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