It’s essential to be aware of potential threats to your Social Security benefits and Social Security disability benefits. Knowing your Social Security benefits status can help you decide when to access your benefits and give you an idea of how much you can collect.
Explore the actions that could limit your ability to claim your full Social Security benefits. Next, start planning for retirement: It’s never too early to learn how to maximize your Social Security income.
Here are seven reasons you could get less Social Security benefits than you expect.
1. Claiming Your Spousal Benefits Too Early
If you were married for a minimum of 10 years and are at least 62 years old, you might be able to claim Social Security spousal benefits. Claiming these benefits before you’ve reached the full retirement age — which ranges from 65 to 67 depending on your birth year — can permanently reduce your benefit amount. Consider talking to a financial advisor before you take any steps toward claiming your spousal benefits early.
2. Applying at the Wrong Time
With so many options regarding when to file for benefits, it can be quite confusing — and not having a clear understanding of your options can affect your benefits. For example, you can apply for Medicare before you’re ready to officially retire. It’s important to know the smartest time to take your benefits.
In 2014, the SSA started sending qualified workers Social Security benefits statements to help with retirement planning. Make sure you get your statement and read it carefully to figure out when to apply for benefits.
If you still need help figuring out when to apply for Social Security retirement benefits or SSI eligibility, you can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office. The office can also answer any questions you might have, like how to get a Medicare application, what Social Security benefits for children are, or how to claim disability benefits.
3. Getting Divorced Too Soon
Even if you’re divorced, you might be eligible to receive spousal Social Security retirement benefits — in addition to a child benefit — if you qualify. To claim spousal benefits, you must have been married for 10 years or more, according to the SSA.
It might be in your best interest to stay legally married until you reach the 10-year mark if you think you’re ready to retire and you’re close — but don’t worry: You don’t have live with your spouse the whole time.
4. Remarrying Before Age 60
If your spouse dies, you might be entitled to collect Social Security survivor benefits based on his earnings record. If you remarry after his death before you reach the age of 60, however, you forfeit those benefits.
If widows or widowers remarry after they reach age 60 — or 50 if they’re disabled — the marriage will not affect their eligibility for survivors’ benefits.
Don’t Miss: 5 Social Security Changes to Watch for in 2017
5. Experiencing Government Cuts
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for a large portion of federal spending. Although President Trump has announced his plans to keep these entitlements in place, that could change.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney plans to reveal full details of the budget between March and May 2017, according to The Washington Post. Keep an eye out for changes to Social Security benefits.
6. Making Additional Income
If you are receiving Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income and the benefits aren’t your only source of income, you might have to pay taxes on those benefits.
Make sure you know what your extra income tax requirements are. And consider planning how much you make from other sources so that you don’t have to pay tax on that money.
7. Funding Running Out
The Social Security trust fund could run out by 2034, according to CNN Money. To keep Social Security solvent for the next 75 years would either involve raising the SS payroll tax rate to 14.98 percent from 12.4 percent on the first $118,500 of wages, cutting benefits by 16 percent or some combination of the two, according to the website.
Should Social Security funding run out, there’s nothing you can do. You can, however, start saving as much as you possibly can for your retirement just in case.