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The average Social Security retirement check is $1,371 every month, according to the August 2017 data released by the Social Security Administration. It’s very common to seek professional counsel to plan out your retirement, but if you find yourself relying on just your Social Security benefit, there are several options as to where to retire just below the U.S. border. Believe it or not, you can live comfortably in retirement on Social Security benefit alone in these three beautiful Latin American destinations.

Mexico

Since it’s so close to us, let’s start with the home of several stunning beaches and sunny weather. Mexico is an excellent choice for many people retiring because it’s close to home, making trips back to the United States for the holidays or seeing family a breeze financially. And there’s so much more to Mexico than just our close neighbor. To become a resident in Mexico, you must provide evidence that you’re received a consistent monthly income, including Social Security benefit, of $1,300 for the past 6 months, you’ll need more for a permanent residency.

Once your residency is accepted, you can enroll in the Instituto Nacional para las Personas Adultas Mayores (INAPAM) program or the National Institute for the Older Adults. Taking this tiny plastic card with you gives you discounts on a variety of goods and services such as healthcare, leisure activities, public transport, restaurants, and plane tickets. Property taxes and water bills in some areas can also be subject to discounts.

Chapala, a lakeside town, has a huge expat community, wonderful weather, and a low cost of living. A one bedroom apartment in the citer center is only $148 a month, while utilities, Internet, and cell service total a mere $75. Groceries also are affordable, with a standard monthly grocery bill costing just $135. This includes bread, cheese, meat, produce, and a little room for treats. Overall, an average monthly budget in this beautiful and sunny lakeside town including dates, a gym membership, and public transportation calculates to be $675 a month.

Click here to learn about more beautiful retirement destinations.

When we discuss Social Security claims, you can choose to retire at many different ages. 62 years of age is the earliest time for a worker to retire and receive benefits. Age 70, however, is the oldest you can be to wait on collecting Social Security benefits. Now ages 66 to 67 are in the equations as well considering that’s full retirement age for those born in 1943 or later, respectively.

Actually, of all the ages that qualify you for Social Security benefit, age 69 isn’t exactly the most common choice, but it’s a choice regardless.

Why You Should Choose to Retire at 69

An argument for claiming Social Security at age 69 is that extending your retirement will increase you benefit stipend. For every year you wait to claim Social Security past full retirement age, you’ll receive an 8% raise that will remain for the rest of your life. What that means is if your full retirement age is 67 and you wait two years to claim benefits until 69, you’ll raise your benefits by 16%. So if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t immediately need the money, this is a risk-free and straightforward option to raise the amount of stipend which you deserve.

Another reason to claim Social Security at age 69 is to help compensate for the lack of retirement saving. In 2017, the average amount that senior workers, aged 56 to 61, saved was a mere $17,000 approximately, which is plainly not enough to live on. If you don’t have much in your savings and are relying on Social Security to pay the bills when you’re older, then you need to make a huge effort to raise your benefit as much as possible before it’s too late.

Also, due to people still being in the workforce until they claim Social Security, if you choose to claim at age 69 and earn income in your career for a few more years, you’ll simultaneously save more money, but also increase your Social Security benefit. See, Social Security benefit is determined on your highest 35 years of earnings, so if you replace a few low-income years or zero income years with some higher income years, then your Social Security benefit will rise in response. If you love your job, or can at least tolerate it, and your health is in good shape, then it may pay off, in the long run, to wait and claim Social Security later than sooner.

Click here to learn the opposing argument of why not to wait to apply at age 69.

Look out moms, motherhood’s tolls can push through to retirement.

Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed in a new paper that mothers with one child receive on average 16% less Social Security benefit at age 62 than non-mothers. Keep note; every additional child reduces benefits by 2 percent or more.

These gaps are slightly due to parents and non-parents being opposite groups when it comes to working and retirement options, says co-author Mathew Rutledge, a research economist from the center. Mothers typically have a lower lifetime earnings sum due to unpaid time out of the workforce to nurture their children, and that comes at a financial penalty. Keeping everything else the same, the center discovered moms with one kid have a lifetime earnings sum that’s 28% less, with 3 percent less for each additional kid.

 

 Learning about the possible Social Security gap might allow mothers to close it, even if only slightly.
Make an effort to continually be in the workforce, even if that means only part-time or as a consult, when you need to raise a child, explains financial planner Nora Yousif, vice president of RBC Wealth Management in South Easton, Massachusetts. Your Social Security benefit at full retirement age (FRA) is determined by your highest 35 years of earnings, and naturally, it’s better to have a low-income year instead of a no income year in that formula.
“The most important thing is to make sure they are employed, and it’s not an under-the-table job,” Yousif notes.
Another option is retiring later or “phasing into retirement” to compensate for an absent or low-income years adds financial planner Victoria Fillet, a co-founder of Blueprint Financial Planning in Hoboken, New Jersey.
A 2016 article from the center revealed that 46% of woman, who work until 62 years of age rather than 62, replaced a no income year in the Social Security benefit calculation. Every dollar you earn in late-career earnings could raise your benefit at full retirement age by 15 to 90 cents, the center determined.
However, working for longer is a tough method to rely on, added Rutledge. Health complications or an event that requires you to provide care for a loved one could make you clock out earlier than expected, and elderly workers could be discriminated.
“There is some evidence that women are more likely to face discrimination than men,” Rutledge discloses.
You can read the full article here to learn more.

Social Security’s purpose is to aid workers during their elderly years, but it’s not enough alone. If you’re currently relying on Social Security to be your only source of income when you’re older, then you are going to be facing a terrible financial situation.

In 2017, the average monthly Social Security stipend is $1,368 monthly, although some individuals get a higher stipend if they paid more during their working years, a lot of people receive far less.

The average monthly stipend from your Social Security would put most people at federal 2017 poverty level, $12,060 annually if used as the primary source of income. Even if you managed to receive the maximum benefit, which is extremely hard to get, that would only net $42,456 a month, which still is far below the cost of comfortable living, especially in the major cities.

People need a lot more than poverty-level income, especially seniors. Here are four reasons why you cannot live on Social Security alone and why you need to make sure you save enough for retirement.

1. Any accident that leads to unplanned expenses could be devastating.

When you crunch the numbers, you learn that the average American senior spends about $3,700 a month or $44,600 a year due to expenses such as healthcare, groceries, and housing. If you wish to live a middle-class lifestyle your Social Security benefit will be substantially lower, even if you manage to get the maximum benefit.

If your income from Social Security is at the average, then your budget will get even tighter. You’ll be forced into a low cost of living site. If you don’t, you can expect to spend your entire month of Social Security just to cover rent “The average monthly rent for a single-bedroom apartment in the top 50 major U.S. cities is roughly $1,234,” according to madison.com.

Due to Social Security benefit being too low or just enough cover essential life expenses, any attempt to save money for things such as an emergency will make you realize that it’s not possible or that it’s extremely difficult. Just about half of all seniors right now have no money saved, and unfortunately you’ll join this group if you are or plan to live on Social Security alone. Sadly, emergencies do arise, and it’s important to be prepared rather than not. If your car requires immediate repair, your fridge stops working, or you accidently hurt yourself you could find yourself in debt, difficulty paying your bills, and no savings to rely on when things get dark.

 

Check out the full article here for more reasons.

Calculating Social Security Benefit

The majority of Americans are qualified to join Social Security if they’ve completed 10 years of work. Once you qualify, how much money you’ll receive from Social Security benefits is determined by a complex formula which converts your past wages into current dollars and then adjusts that number lower at specific income levels called “bend points.”

Social Security determines your benefit on your highest 35 years od adjusted income divided by 420, the number of months that create 35 years. This provides your average indexed monthly earnings or AIME.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the bend point multiplies to determine your maximum monthly Social Security benefit at your full retirement age. Full retirement age is based upon the individual’s birth year, so if you were born in 1956 your FRA is 66 years and 4 months, and if you were born during or after 1960, it’s 67 years old.

For 2017, the calculations reveal that the average monthly Social Security check is $1,377 with a maximum benefit of $2,687 a month. But in 2018 Social Security’s cost of living adjustment (COLA) and an increase in income that succumbs to payroll taxes will raise the average and maximum Social Security stipend benefit to $1,404 and $2,788.

 

So How Can You Get the Biggest Check?

Social Security typically replaces about 40% of your pre-retirement income, so if you earn less than the maximum benefit that’s subject to payroll taxes, a pay raise will be the best chance to get the biggest benefit possible, according to the article. In 2017, payroll taxes are collected on income earned up to $127,200. However, they’ll be collected on income up to $128,700 to adjust for inflation.

If you’re currently receiving Social Security and you’ve at your full retirement age, then a pay bump will still be able to give your benefit stipend a raise due to Social Security recalculating your benefit amount annually.

If your current income is already at the maximum taxable income point, then you should be focused on how many years you’ve worked. Social Security uses the highest 35 years of your work history regarding income to find your benefit stipend. If you haven’t worked for at least 35 years then continue to will replace any potential zeros in your Social Security calculation. If you’ve worked for more than 35 years, but your income is currently higher than it was at the start of your career, you can still work to help remove low-income years that may be lowering your benefit stipend amount.

You could also utilize delayed retirement credits to help get a bigger check as well. If you choose to not collect benefits until after your full retirement age, then those credits can increase your stipend by 8% per year, up until age 70. Delayed retirement credits can be used to increase you benefit stipend above the maximum Social Security payment; this means if you qualify for the maximum amount, waiting a few more years to obtain Social Security could help tremendously. For example, if you qualify for the maximum $2,788 in 2018, you’ll receive 129.33% of that amount if you wait to claim benefits until the age of 70. This will give you $3,605 each month.

While it’s easy to get fixated on maximizing your Social Security check, you need to make sure to not only consider payment when reviewing your retirement options. You’ll want to compromise on your wish to get the maximum Social Security benefit with your spouse’s and your health and retirement plans.

You can read the full article here.

Social Security is widely considered the most necessary social program provided in the United States.

As of this past August, near 62 million individuals received benefits and more than 42 million of those people were retired workers. Most of these retired workers, which make up 62% of social security beneficiaries, expect their monthly payment from the Social Security Administration or SSA for at least 50% of their income.

Social Security is Going to be Different in 2018

Perhaps there’s no better time for Social Security beneficiaries to be focused than now due to the annual announcement regarding SS changes arriving in 2018. Similiar to the U.S. economy, the payment, tax, and qualifying guidelines of Social Security aren’t permanently fixed. Since the SSA released their plans for social security in 2018, the USA TODAY created an article detailing the seven biggest changes to Social Security in 2018.

Social Security Beneficiaries Get A Raise

It’s finally here; the most anticipated change now has the logistics thanks to the inflation info released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coming in 2018, Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 2% cost of living adjustment. 2% may not appear to be a lot, but it turns out it’s an added $27 for the average retired worker, which is actually the highest inflationary increase in the past six years.

Make sure not to celebrate too early for the 2$ raise, which a lot of beneficiaries will actually see little or no raise whatsoever. If you’re part of Medicare and have your Part B premiums deducted from your monthly Social Security payment, and the hold harmless clause has shielded you in the past years, you are liable to have some or all of your raise consumed by Medicare. Hold harmless is the legal clause that ensures Part B monthly premiums don’t rise faster than the Social Security’s annual cost of living adjustment.
You can read the full article here to learn more details about other changes to Social Security in 2018.

 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to create a “My Social Security” account to calculate and track your Social Security Benefits!  Here are four reasons to sign up today!

  • Accurate records could mean higher Social Security benefits – Your my Social Security account will show the amount of money you earned each year prior to retirement, so it is a good idea to keep track of the amounts to ensure they are accurate.
  • You can calculate the best age to retire – Your my Social Security account will show you the estimated amount of benefits you will receive at different ages.  You can quickly find out what you will receive during early retirement, full retirement and later.
  • Staying aware of your estimated Social Security benefits is a good reality check – Social Security was designed to help individuals during retirement, not to be a replacement for a retirement plan.  Your my Social Security account will allow you to see the estimated payments you will receive so you can better plan for your full retirement.
  • You can manage your benefits without having to wait in line at a Social Security office – If you are currently receiving retirement or disability benefits you can view and update your personal information including address and banking information as well as request a replacement Social Security Card or Medicare card.  In addition, if you are a new applicant you can view the status of your application.

It’s important to get an idea now of what your estimated Social Security benefits will be so you can plan realistically for your financial future.

Opening a “my Social Security” account is the place to start tracking your earnings and managing your benefits.

Read the full article at: www.usa.gov

Recently some Stanford employees reported that criminals have applied for Social Security benefits using the employee’s personal information.  It is not clear how the criminals were able to obtain the employee’s personal information, but they somehow acquired enough information to apply for Social Security Benefits online.

It is very important that people safe guard their social security numbers and private information.  Never give out your SSN or other private information online unless it is on a secured (https: or SSL sites) website and you are positive the website needs the information like the Social Security Administration’s ssa.gov website.

The scam begins with the criminal submitting a fraudulent Social Security benefits application online using your personal information. In order to do this, he needs your name, Social Security number, date of birth and mother’s maiden name, plus supplementary identification questions regarding information from your credit report (e.g., current or past loans, accounts, and mailing addresses). It is common for criminals to collect this information from various online services or by contacting you directly by email, phone, text message or U.S. mail and posing as SSA representatives. If you receive any such communication, do not reply. Instead, contact the SSA directly at (800) 772-1213.

Read the full article at: news.stanford.edu

Your Social Security number can only be reassigned under the following circumstances: If,

  • The Social Security numbers of members of the family are closely related and causing errors; Sequential numbers assigned to members of the same family are causing problems
  • More than one person is assigned or using the same social security number
  • You’re a victim of identity theft and your original number is found to be continually detrimental
  • There is a situation of harassment, abuse or life endangerment; or
  • An individual has religious or cultural objections to certain numbers or digits in the original number.

People looking to request a new Social Security number should:

  • Apply in person at a Social Security office
  • Complete an application
  • Provide a statement explaining the reasons for needing a new number
  • Provide current, credible, third-party evidence documenting the reasons for needing a new number and
  • Provide original documents establishing:
  • U.S. citizenship or work-authorized immigration status
  • Age
  • Identity and
  • Evidence of a legal name change, if appropriate.

To request a different Social Security number, contact your local Social Security office for an in-person appointment.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security law in order to help low and middle-income Americans during their senior years and after being disabled.  Unfortunately, in today’s political climate there are those that want to greatly reduce the various Social Security benefits many Americans already receive.

Social Security benefits have helped and continue to help millions of poor and middle income as well as disabled Americans get by every month.  These individuals are not receiving a lot of money each month, but it is enough to help them cover their expenses.  Many individuals do not know what they would do if their Social Security income was reduced or eliminated.

Do you receive Social Security benefits?  Tell us what your thoughts are regarding the political push to reduce Social Security benefits in the comment section below!

Social Security has never been more essential than it is today. Traditional defined benefit pensions are increasingly rare, especially for younger Americans. That means that for future generations of retirees, Social Security will be the only guaranteed retirement income that they can never outlive. Already, one-third of elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all or nearly all of their income. That number will be higher for their children and grandchildren.

The problem with relying solely on Social Security? Benefits are too low to allow America’s families to retire and face disability or the death of a breadwinner without drastic cuts in their standards of living. Social Security benefits are modest by virtually any measure. Average benefits are only $16,000 a year.

Though the Social Security benefits are too low, they are still a major improvement over the time before Social Security. Prior to its enactment, people, as they aged, had no resources at all and were forced to move in with adult children or condemned to live in squalid poorhouses. Surviving parents often had no choice but to give up their children when spouses died prematurely; working families were left destitute when workers became disabled or died. Americans deserved better, and the country responded. It is time to respond further. Though Social Security has provided us with greater economic security, it can do more.

Read the full article at: www.huffingtonpost.com