As Social Security Faces Major Changes in 2024, Here Are 8 Rules That Remain Constant

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The Social Security program seems to face constant changes — especially lately. A new Social Security reform bill (HR-4583) was recently introduced to the House of Representatives, and could include some notable changes for next year, reported FEDweek.

But there are eight rules that should remain the same in 2024.

1. Claiming Benefits Before Full Retirement Age (FRA) Reduces Payments

You can claim Social Security benefits as early as 62 instead of waiting until your full retirement age (66 and 67). However, doing so reduces your benefit amount by as much as 30%, according to the Social Security Administration.

A benefit is reduced by 5/9 of one percent for each month before the normal retirement age, up to 36 months. Past 36 months, the benefit is reduced by 5/12 of one percent per month.

2. Earning Income Before FRA and Claiming Social Security Benefits Subjects You to Annual Earnings Limitation

Per the SSA, if you’re under FRA in 2023 and claim benefits, the annual earnings limit is $21,240. But if you reach FRA in 2023, the limit on your earnings for the months before is $56,520. If you earn anything above this, the SSA will deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 earned over the annual limit.

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3. Spousal Benefits Are Replaced With Survivor Benefits After Death

When your spouse dies, your spousal benefits are replaced with survivor benefits. Spousal benefits are capped at 50% of the worker’s benefit, while survivor benefits are 100% of the deceased worker’s benefit.

4. Delayed Retirement Credits Are Only Earned on Your Own Benefits

Social Security retirement benefits increase by a certain percentage for each month you delay claiming benefits past full retirement age. Delayed retirement credits stop when you reach the age of 70.

5. Social Security Benefits Are Taxable

Many people pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. But, the SSA says this only happens if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits, such as wages, interest, dividends, etc. You’ll only pay tax on 85% of your Social Security benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual, file a joint return or are married and filed a separate tax return.

6. To Receive Ex-Spousal Benefits, You Must Have Been Married for at Least 10 Years

You can receive ex-spousal benefits if you’re age 62 or older, unmarried and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. To be eligible, you and your ex-spouse must have been married for 10 years or more. If you’re remarried since, you can’t collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record unless your later marriage ended in an annulment, divorce or death.

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7. To Receive a Spousal Benefit, It Must Be Larger Than Your Own

You can claim benefits based on your own work history or your spouse’s, but you can’t get both. You’ll only receive a spousal benefit if it’s larger than your benefit. Spousal benefits are also capped at half of your spouse’s benefit at FRA.

8. There’s No Reason To Wait Until Past 70 To Claim Benefits

Waiting past the age of 70 won’t increase your benefits even if you continue to delay taking benefits. If you’re 70 and haven’t claimed Social Security benefits, the SSA recommends claiming now for the benefits you’re owed.

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