What To Know About Social Security When You’re Past Retirement Age

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If you’re already past retirement age, there’s not a lot you can do to modify your Social Security payments. However, there are still some factors that can boost your payout. At this age, it’s also important to understand exactly how payouts for Social Security work, when they arrive, how they’re taxed and how they may change in the future. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to know about Social Security when you’re past retirement age.

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You Can Only Increase Your Payment Until Age 70

Once you’ve filed for Social Security, you can no longer increase your payments by earning more money or delaying your filing date. However, if you’re past retirement age but have not yet filed, your payment will increase every year you wait until age 70. The gains can be quite substantial, as your monthly income will rise 8% per year between age 67 and 70. But once you reach age 70, your payments stop increasing.

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However, the US Government Can

You may not be able to increase your Social Security payments after age 70, but the U.S. government can. Every year, Social Security payments are subject to a cost-of-living adjustment in line with inflation. While in some years this adjustment amounts to zero, for 2022, payments jumped a significant 5.9%. With inflation remaining stubbornly high through the first third of 2022, Social Security recipients could be in line for another big adjustment upward in January 2023. 

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Your Payments Arrive at the Same Time Every Month

Social Security benefits are paid in the month after they are due. For example, if you file to start benefits in August, your first check will arrive in September. The date of your payment depends on day you were born, as follows:

  • If your date of birth was from the 1st to the 10th, your benefits will be paid on the second Wednesday of the month
  • If your date of birth was from the 11th to the 20th, your benefits will be paid on the third Wednesday of the month
  • If your date of birth was from the 21st to the 31st, your benefits will be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month
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The easiest way to receive your benefits is electronically via direct deposit to your bank. You can also have them automatically deposited into your Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® account. You can sign up for direct deposit either through your own bank or through the Social Security Administration.

Benefits May Be Reduced in the Future

Although you’re likely to receive ongoing cost-of-living adjustments in the future, you should prepare for the possibility that your benefits might be reduced in the future.

The Social Security Administration has reported that the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by 2033. This doesn’t mean that Social Security will cease to exist, as the bulk of revenue for current recipients always comes from taxes on those currently in the workforce. But the depletion of the Trust Fund would remove one stream of income for current recipients. 

According to the Social Security Trustees, ongoing tax revenue is only anticipated to cover 76% of program expenses once the Trust Fund is depleted in 2033. This means that changes will need to be made to keep benefits fully funded. Potential options include raising the Social Security taxable wage base or lengthening the retirement age. Although changes are likely to occur before 2033, you should be prepared for the fact that cuts to benefits remain a possibility.

Your Benefits May Become Taxable

Social Security benefits are generally nontaxable. But if you earn enough outside income, they may become taxable. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, about 40% of Social Security recipients pay tax on their benefits. 

As a single filer, your benefits will remain nontaxable as long as you earn less than $25,000. For joint filers, the threshold is $32,000. Between $25,000 and $34,000 of income, single filers will have to pay taxes on up to 50% of benefits. This jumps to 85% of benefits for incomes above $34,000. For joint filers, the 50% range is from $32,000 to $44,000, with earnings above $44,000 triggering a tax on 85% of Social Security benefits.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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