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If you can not answer these 3 questions, you can not sign up for Social Security – The Motley Fool

Many older workers are counting down the days until they can sign up for social insurance. If you are about to apply for benefits, you probably want to get the money you are entitled to. However, make sure you know how to answer these key questions.

. 1 What is my full retirement age?

Your social security benefits are calculated on the basis of the 35 best-paid years, but the age at which you apply for the first time also affects how much money you receive each month. If you submit your full retirement age (FRA), you will receive the exact monthly benefit at which you receive your earnings. This is how this age looks, depending on your year of birth:

Year of birth

Full retirement age





66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months


Now you certainly do not have to apply for benefits from the FRA. You are allowed to start collecting at the age of 62 and not before the age of 70. (They are technically not required however, to submit but at the age of 70, but there is no financial incentive to postpone the point.) However, if you submit to the FRA at some point, you will faced with a reduction in benefits that will remain in effect for the rest of your life, unless you manage to withdraw your claim within a year and repay the money you have received in benefits. On the other hand, if you postpone benefits through FRA, you increase it by 8% annually up to the age of 70.

  Smiling senior man in apron at a kitchen counter.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES. [19659024] Therefore, do not consider signing up for Social Security until you know what your FRA is. Otherwise, you will not understand the financial implications of your decision.

. 2 Is my earnings list correct?

Since social security benefits are income-based, it is important that the Social Security Authority (SSA) has accurate information about your income history. If this is not the case, you may lose income as a senior.

Imagine you earned $ 80,000 in 2016, just for some reason. The SSA has no income for you this year. If this is the case, the missing $ 80,000 could result in a lower monthly performance. For this reason, you must review your income statements annually and make sure they are correct. You can access them by creating an account on the SSA website if you do not receive them by e-mail. This is not the case if you are under 60 years old. If you detect errors, report them to the SSA and strive to correct them before your benefits begin.

. 3 Did I talk to my spouse about the submission?

If you are single, you only need to consider your own needs when applying for social insurance. But when you look after a spouse, you need to think about how your choices affect your life partner. First, if your spouse was not working, you were entitled to spouse benefits, which could amount to up to 50% of your full retirement benefits. So, if you submit early, you not only reduce your own benefits, but also your spouse. And that could be a problem if your spouse is much younger than you or if you assume that your spouse will survive you in retirement.

Even if your spouse worked and is entitled to benefits from him, it pays off to develop a common filing strategy that will allow you both to maximize the income of the social security you are entitled to. Therefore, you need to sit down with your spouse and synchronize before signing up for benefits yourself.

Social security can ultimately provide a significant portion of your retirement income, so it's important that you take full advantage of your benefits. Make sure that you can answer these important questions before you submit, to avoid losing money that you can not afford.

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