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Social Security Questions & Answers
from PBS News Hour

by Laurence Kotlikoff

Social Security Info    
updated Jan 2015 from orig source: American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers

SSA 2017 Adjustments page (2016 page is here)

Amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxes
__increases to $127,200 in 2017 from $118,500 in 2016.

Age Limits

For those born in 1943-1954, full retirement age is 66; for those:
__born in 1955, full retirement = age 66 + 2 months
__born in 1956, full retirement = age 66 + 4 months
__born in 1957, full retirement = age 66 + 6 months
__born in 1958, full retirement = age 66 + 8 months
__born in 1959, full retirement = age 66 + 10 months
__born in 1960 & later, full retirement = age 67

If full retirement age is reached:
__Before 2017 (recipients born in 1950 or earlier):
____Recipients receive full benefits.
____No limit on earnings, no reduction in benefits for those at full-retirement age.

__In 2017:
____Recipients can earn up to $44,880, then lose $1 in benefits for each additional $3 earned.
____From month of full retirement age on, there is no earnings limit.
____(In 2016 & 2015, the threshold was $41,880; in 2014, it was $41,400)

__After 2016:
____Recipients can earn $16,920 in 2016 [$1,410/month] before losing $1 in benefits
____for each $2 earned.
____(The 2016 & 2015 threshold was $15,720 [$1,310/mo]; in 2014 it was $15,480 [$1,290/mo)

Age 50.  Benefits start for disabled surviving spouse.

Age 60.  Benefits start for nondisabled surviving spouse.

Age 62.  Reduced benefits for employee’s spouse or former spouse (if still alive).


Important: 40 earned credits (generally 10 years of work) will make a person eligible for benefits at a certain age-but not necessarily maximum benefits. Credits are unrelated to the amount of the benefits.

Basis of Benefits

Social Security benefits are based on average earnings of the best 35 years of work-not just the last 10 years, as many think. An adjustment is made to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. SSA then calculates average monthly adjusted earnings over those 35 years when the worker earned the most money.

Website for Your Personal Info

Handy new Website. The SSA’s new “my Social Security account” is a personalized online account that replaces the annual paper statement mailed to workers. When employees have questions about their future benefits, send them to the site below.

The new site lets you access your payment history, earnings record and a benefits verification letter. The letter can be used to prove income to secure a loan, mortgage, housing, state or local benefits, or to prove your age for Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status. The letter can be customized and printed. You can also change your address and sign up for direct deposit.

Anyone 18 or older can sign up at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/. Be ready with data about yourself.

On the same Website, those not yet receiving benefits can access their Social Security statement of earnings, benefits information and estimates of future benefits and link to online services such as applications for retirement disability or Medicare.

Social Security Brochures
from the Social Security Administration

____Retirement Planner web page
____When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits
____How Work Affects Your Benefits
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