How to Plan for Social Security in 2022

Plan for Social Security

Having a plan for Social Security is critical, as it’s an essential piece of your financial security for the future.

For some, Social Security may be the biggest part of their retirement savings. For others, it’s a smaller piece of the pie.

Either way, your Social Security planning should not be taken lightly.

Many people fail to plan for Social Security. Instead, they just wait to receive the benefits.

This is a mistake because it doesn’t allow room for you to maximize your benefits.

The good news is that it is easy to plan for Social Security in 2022.

It boils down to 2 essential questions: 

#1 How much will I receive in benefits? 

#2 What’s the best age to claim benefits? 

Yes, it’s that simple. 

It all boils down to your personal choice. After all, we all have different goals, retirement savings amounts, incomes, etc. So why would planning for Social Security be a one-size-fits-all strategy? 

Use these two essential questions to help you plan for Social Security to meet your personal needs in the coming years. 

Determine How Much You Will Receive

When you plan for Social Security, the first thing you want to do is determine how much you will receive.

The first step is to open a My Social Security account here:

Once you create an account, you can verify your earnings record over time and calculate your income in retirement. 

The Social Security Administration website also has a nice calculator there to help you do this. 

If you have an account with the Social Security Administration, this calculator can estimate your retirement benefits at different ages using your earnings history.

If you are not ready to create a My Social Security account, but still want to know, you can use Social Security Administration tools, such as the Social Security Quick Calculator, to get a quick estimate. 

However, please note per the Social Security Administration, The estimated and actual amounts may differ due to:

  • Future increases or decreases in your earnings.
  • Social Security annual cost-of-living adjustments.
  • Changes to U.S. laws and policies.
  • Your military service, railroad employment, or pensions earned through work for which you did not pay Social Security tax.

This calculator does not utilize your earnings history, so it won’t be as precise, but it is a good starting point.

Decide When Is the Best Time for You to Start Receiving Benefits

Once you have created your My Social Security account, you need to choose the best age to start your benefits. 

There is no right or best age for this. Every person’s circumstance is different.

The Social Security Administration explains, “You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be lower than your full retirement benefit amount. If you start receiving your benefits before your full retirement age, we will reduce your benefits based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach your full retirement age.”

Even so, many people believe it is still worth it to take early Social Security benefits. 

Then again, some people feel it is better for their situation to delay Social Security benefits to enjoy the increase in benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, “Social Security retirement benefits are increased by a certain percentage for each month you delay starting your benefits beyond full retirement age. The benefit increase stops when you reach age 70.”

Let’s say you were born between 1943 and 1954, and your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is 66. 

You can start your Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but you won’t receive full benefits until you reach age 66. 

Then, once you reach full retirement age (66, in this case), each month you delay benefits, the bigger your benefits check will be.

Take time to use the Social Security Administration calculators to help you determine how much in benefits you’ll receive at different ages.

[Related Read: 7 Reasons Why Taking Early Social Security Benefits Is Beneficial]

Consider the Potential Penalties

While you are using the calculators, be sure to consider potential penalties.

For example, will you continue to work while receiving Social Security benefits? 

If so, and you are under Full Retirement Age, your earnings have a limit before you are penalized. 

There are limits on how much you can earn each year between age 62 and full retirement age and still get all your benefits. 

Currently, for 2022, if you are younger than full retirement age, you can earn up to $19,560 before one benefit dollar is withheld for every $2 earned above this limit. 

In the year you turn your full retirement age, the Social Security earnings limit climbs to $51,960, up $1,440 from 2021, and the penalty declines to $1 withheld for every $3 in excess earnings. 

Once you reach full retirement age, your earnings do not affect your benefits.

Let’s say you are 64, and you start collecting early benefits while you’re still working.

For 2022, the limit that you’re allowed to make monthly is $1,630 per month and $19,560 for the year.

If you’re working while collecting Social Security and you earn MORE than this amount, you will be penalized.

The Social Security Administration will deduct one dollar from your benefit, so if you receive $600 a month in benefits from Social Security, they will take $1 for every $2 you earn over the annual limit.

[Related Read: Working While Collecting Social Security Benefits – Avoid This Costly Mistake]

Take Other Retirement Assets into Account

Another consideration as you plan for Social Security is whether you have other retirement assets you can draw from before taking Social Security benefits.

This allows your Social Security benefits to increase in value while you wait. 

From age 62 to full retirement age, the average increase in benefits is 6.25% each year. 

After full retirement age, this increases to 8% until age 70, when you must turn on Social Security benefits.

In those 8 years, your benefits can increase significantly.

[Related Read: 3 Strategies to Maximize Social Security Benefits]

Keep Up with Updates

Once you plan for Social Security in 2022, don’t just sit and forget it.

It’s important to keep up with updates to see how they will affect your Social Security benefits and financial security in the future.

For instance, the Social Security Administration recently announced the highest increase to benefits since 1982. This increase is a Cost-of-Living Adjustment of 5.9%.

They also announced that those drawing Social Security before full retirement age are able to earn up to $600 before being penalized.

While these two updates are promising, another update may hurt higher earners. The Social Security Administration announced an increase in Social Security taxes for those earning more money.

Watch 3 Massive Social Security Changes in 2022 to Learn More.

These 3 updates may make a big difference – especially if you are primarily depending on Social Security for retirement.

It also serves as an excellent reminder to stay on top of updates and make changes to your plan for Social Security as needed.

Steps to Receive Social Security Benefits

When you have decided to start receiving Social Security benefits, it’s as easy as hopping online and applying. 

We suggest starting 90 days out, as there is a lag in the processing time.

Online – Here’s the online enrollment link:

In-person – You can visit your local Social Security office to apply, but you will need an appointment. Here’s the link to find your local Social Security office:

Over the phone – You can apply over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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