Retiring from full time work in your golden years should be as happy and worry free as possible, or else what’s the point? Whether you’ve retired from the same job after 30 years with a nice 401k or you’ve saved and invested on your own, you want to make the most of it and continue to save where you can. Hopefully you’ll be enjoying all those things and activities you denied yourself in order to save for retirement. Luckily most retirees will qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, but did you know that the earlier you retire the less you’ll receive? That’s right!
When to Apply
If you retire and apply for Social Security at 62, you only collect less than 75% of the monthly benefit. If you apply for benefits by age 65, you will get 92.2% of the benefit. However, if you wait until you’re 66 or older, you’ll be able to collect 100% of your benefits. (Here’s a helpful hint. If you want to start receiving social security benefits when you turn 66, apply 3 months prior to your birthday). Now, if you haven’t worked enough to apply for social security benefits at retirement age, such as in the case of a career housewife and mother, but your spouse has and unfortunately passes away, you can collect under their social security number. You can also collect under your spouse who is living if you’ve been married ten years or longer.
Yes, it’s grim but we are talking about a Survivor Benefits from Social Security. You can maximize the survivor benefit to your spouse by waiting until age 70 to begin collecting. It creates a larger monthly benefit amount that becomes the survivor benefit when the first spouse passes. Even though most of your social security needs can be handled online these days, applying for survivors’ benefits isn’t one of them. You’ll need to call your nearest social security office and make an appointment. When it comes to Social Security don’t wait. It seems to take an average of 90 days for them to process anything. For anyone who lost a spouse and or has kids at home to take care of, you’ll want to get your benefits rolling as soon as possible.
Our proud veterans make up another category of retirees. While the rising cost of health care may force some retirees to compromise on their health care, the VA has options available to veterans only that can really make the difference. For qualifying veterans, the VA can help with everything from check-ups and physical therapy to home or long-term health care. Veterans may also be able to get additional benefits for your spouse. For spouses they can get Dependent indemnity Compensation (DIC), a death pension. There is a special allowance for aid and attendance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, life insurance benefits and burial benefits. Most vets don’t know these are available to them as well as their dependents. The VA will also help with the cost of funeral expenses, although there is a significant difference between service-connected and non-service-connected deaths.
Lastly, for our retirees, don’t forget to ask for your discount everywhere you go. Many places offer our veterans a 10% discount and Senior Citizens up to 20% in some cases. Most businesses don’t advertise the discount, so you’ll need to be a bit assertive to find out. Some discounts start at age 55 and for others you need to be older. You may also qualify for a free checking account, discounts on auto and home insurance, restaurants, hotels and even retail stores. Some retailers only run the discounts on certain days of the week or month. If you do a bit of research though, you’ll find the benefits of these discounts can really add up.