Most Boomers Failed This Social Security Quiz — Here’s What You Should Know

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How much do you know about Social Security benefits? MassMutual recently gave a 13-question true/false quiz to 1,500 individuals ages 55 through 65, CNBC reported. According to the results, 65% of people either failed or got a D grade, 18% of respondents earned a C, 12% got a B and 6% received an A. Only 1% of respondents got a perfect score.

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Here are the quiz questions as reported by CNBC, along with the correct answer to each.

True or False?

1. In most cases, if I take benefits before my full retirement age, they will be reduced for early filing.

True. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67 but you can claim as early as age 62. Claiming at 62 permanently reduces your benefits by 30%, but you will receive more monthly payments than if you wait to file.

2. If I am receiving benefits before my full retirement age and continue to work, my benefits might be reduced based on how much I make.

Retire Comfortably

True. Although the Social Security Administration allows you to work after filing for benefits, benefits will be temporarily reduced if you haven’t reached full retirement age and you earn above the annual limit of $19,560.

3. If I have a spouse, he or she can receive benefits from my record even if he or she has no individual earnings history.

True. The spousal benefit is a maximum of 50% of the higher earner’s salary.

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4. If I have a spouse and he or she passes away, I will receive both my full benefit and my deceased spouse’s full benefit.

False. However, you could receive a higher benefit based on your deceased spouse’s or ex-spouse’s earnings record as long as you don’t remarry before age 60 — or, if remarried, you later divorce. You can claim these benefits as early as 60, but you’ll only receive 71% of the deceased’s benefit. If you wait until full retirement age, you’re entitled to 100% of the deceased’s benefit.

Retire Comfortably

5. Generally, if I am in a same-sex marriage, there are different eligibility requirements when it comes to Social Security retirement benefits.

False. The SSA recognizes same-sex marriages, including approved foreign marriages, in all 50 states.

6. The money that comes out of my paycheck for Social Security goes into a specific account for me and remains there, earning interest, until I begin to receive Social Security benefits.

False. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program. Today’s workers pay Social Security taxes, and that money goes back out as monthly income to beneficiaries.

7. Under current law, Social Security benefits could be reduced by 20% or more for everyone by 2035.

True. Payroll taxes are only expected to cover about 78% of scheduled benefits by 2035. Retirees could see a 22% reduction in Social Security payments unless workers pay more into the system or the full retirement age is increased.

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8. If I file for retirement benefits and have dependent children aged 18 or younger, they also may qualify for Social Security benefits.

True. The children of retired, deceased and disabled workers can collect Social Security benefits on a parent’s earnings record.

9. If I get divorced, I might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouse’s Social Security earnings history.

True. If you were married for at least 10 years before you got divorced and haven’t remarried by age 60, you’re entitled to the same spousal benefits as if you had remained married. 

10. Under current Social Security law, full retirement age is 65 no matter when you were born.

Read: The Guide To Working While on Social Security

False. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. Full retirement age increases by 2 months every year for those born between 1955 and 1959. If you were born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.

11. If I delay taking Social Security benefits past the age of 70, I will continue to get delayed retirement credit increases each year I wait.

False. Benefits increase by 8% per year that you wait to file, but only until the age of 70.

12. Social Security retirement benefits are subject to income tax just like withdrawals from a traditional individual retirement account.

False. Social Security income won’t be taxed if it’s your only retirement income. You will likely have to pay income tax if you receive other types of income, such as from wages or retirement accounts.

13. I must be a U.S. citizen to collect Social Security retirement benefits.

False. Non-citizens can collect Social Security retirement benefits; however, different rules apply.

This isn’t the first time near-retirees fared poorly on a MassMutual Social Security quiz. In last year’s poll, over one third of respondents failed, and just 3% answered all 12 questions correctly.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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