There can be 50 ways to lose your lover – and when it comes to Social Security, there are also many ways to lose your benefits. Maybe not 50, but they’re still problematic because Social Security income is crucial for many retirees, and any decrease in benefits can really hurt.

Here are three ways to lose some of that income. Consider these precautions to get the most out of Social Security.

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1. Claiming your benefits too soon

The social security checks in your future are not fixed. Not only will they be adjusted for inflation, but you can also take action to make them bigger or smaller. A key decision for most retirees is when to start collecting benefits, as any delays can make your checks bigger.

For each year beyond full retirement age that you delay receiving benefits, you will increase their value by approximately 8%, until age 70. Delay 67 to 70 and you can end up with checks about 24% bigger. If you start collecting early, your checks will be smaller. For each year before full retirement age that you begin to receive, your benefits decrease by approximately 7%. So if your full retirement age is 67 and you start collecting benefits at age 62, your checks will be about 30% lower.

Delaying until 70 is indeed a smart move for many people, but not everyone. And starting to collect early is not as painful as it seems. This is because the system is designed in such a way that the total benefits received are about the same regardless of when you start collecting, if you have a typical lifespan as determined by the team. social security actuarial. Even though the checks that start coming in at age 62 will be considerably smaller, you’ll get a lot more. Plus, if you’re able to invest some of that money, you might end up doing as well or better than you’d expected.

2. Being the victim of a scammer

Another way to lose Social Security benefits is to fall for a scam or have your identity stolen. Social Security scams are on the rise. According to a report, social security numbers are compromised more often than credit card numbers. In a scam, thieves who have obtained information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number will open a my Social Security account in your name and attempt to steal your benefits.

You can thwart this by opening your own social security account before any identity thief. It’s actually a convenient thing to do, because having an account means you can access the Social Security Administration (SSA) website and do a variety of business, including:

  • See an estimate of your future benefits based on your current earnings.
  • Review the SSA’s record of your past earnings to make sure they are correct.
  • Check the status of your claim for benefits.
  • Apply for a replacement Social Security card (if you meet certain criteria).
  • Apply for a replacement Medicare card.
  • Change your address.
  • Start or modify the direct deposit of your benefit payments.
  • Obtain a replacement form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax purposes.
We see two hands holding a sign on which is written the word scam.

Image source: Getty Images.

You can also apply to start receiving your benefits on the SSA website.

You can avoid many scams by not giving out any personal information to strangers who call you out of the blue or send you an alarming email suggesting your benefits are canceled or your social security number has been suspended. Remember that businesses and government agencies don’t usually call you to ask for personal information, and they often use snail mail rather than email for important communications.

3. If social security is not strengthened

Finally, as the media likes to remind us, we risk losing Social Security benefits if the program becomes insolvent. But that may not happen – and if it does, it may not. enough as terrible as you think.

With people living longer in recent years, the ratio of workers contributing to Social Security to retirees collecting benefits has declined. Thus, social security trust funds, which have recorded a surplus every year since 1984, have long been collecting more money than they are paying out. But these surpluses have diminished and should stop around 2020. This does not mean that they will suddenly have no more money.

At this point, the system can rely on incoming interest payments to fill the funding gap – for a while. According to a government estimate, social security funds should see their reserves run out around 2034, but only if no changes are made. If that happens, the Social Security benefit checks won’t stop coming, but they will be smaller – by about 23%.

Fortunately, Social Security can be bolstered, if those in Washington so choose. For example, it has been estimated that 77% of the trust fund deficit could be eliminated by increasing the social security tax rate for employers and employees from its current level of 6.2% to 7.2% by 2022 and to 8.2% in 2052. (That would be ‘This is also not the first tax increase. The tax rate was increased in 1983 to bolster the pre-retirement program many baby boomers.)

Another possibility is to tax all of each worker’s income, instead of just the first $132,900. There is a ceiling on the part of our income that is taxed for social security. This cap is $132,900 for 2019. Most of us are taxed on all of our income, but if, for example, you are lucky enough to earn $1,132,900 in 2019, you will not pay any Social Security taxes. on $1 million of your income. It is estimated that eliminating the income cap over a 10-year period, so that we are all taxed on all our income, can erase 71% of the shortfall in the trust fund.

It is worth learning more about Social Security in order to get the most out of it. To get started, find out how you could increase your Social Security benefits.