Eager to retire? This guide has been compiled to help you plan for and maximize your Social Security benefits.

First and foremost, to become eligible for social security benefits, you must work with an employer who participates in the Social Security system under covered employment. Some government entities may elect not to participate in the Social Security system. Those employees, like school teachers, firefighters, and police officers, are often covered or are eligible for a government pension or another benefit.

You become eligible for Social Security once you have acquired sufficient work credits, generally equivalent to 10 years of employment.

Before 2022 credits were based on quarters of work; now, credits are based upon the amount of money you earn in a year. One 2022 credit equals $1,510 in earnings, and forty work credits are required to be eligible for Social Security and Medicare. You can earn a maximum of four credits in a year, and the earnings amount changes each year.

Understanding Social Security - REDW
Video Series: Understanding Social Security

In these short, comprehensive videos, Senior Financial Planner David Cechanowicz, guides you through the maze of Understanding Social Security so you can plan for and design your personal journey to retirement with greater confidence.

Topics Include:

  • Learn how benefits are calculated, how you get it, how you share it, how you can cause benefits to shrink, and how you can lose part of it – or – even lose it all.
  • What is FRA? Learn about Full Retirement Age and the issues surrounding it.
  • What is your PIA or primary insurance amount? David explains how it’s computed in determining your social security retirement benefit, when it’s calculated, and why it’s such a pivotal number in the social security system.
  • As you prepare to claim Social Security benefits, various situations can complicate two married individuals, who are both eligible, living in one household claiming benefits. See how multiple scenarios complicate the claiming process.

Watch: Understanding Social Security

Ask a Social Security Question Now

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17 Factors to Consider Consider When Claiming Social Security

Standalone Social Security claiming analysis, like software, applications, and online tools, will frequently come up with an entirely different results than one from a program that looks at all your financial resources in retirement.

When you consider all of the items on the 17 Factors to Consider List, it should be clear there are many different aspects of claiming social security that will be unique to your personal situation.

See the 17 Factors

17 Things to Consider When Claiming Social Security - REDW Wealth 2022

Is it better to take Social Security at 62 or 67?

This is the kind of question we frequently see at REDW wealth, but in some ways, it’s like asking whether a young couple should have a baby right away or wait five years. There is no one correct answer in considering all the variables that go into making the Social Security decision. There could be as many as five or six different answers ranging from claiming at age 62, claiming at full retirement age, delaying payments until age 70.


Is it better to take Social Security at 62 or 67 - REDW Wealth SS

How do you determine how much Social Security you will get?

The Social Security Administration of the United States explains, the “primary insurance amount,” or PIA, is the sum of three different percentages – of portions – of average indexed monthly earnings. The amounts depend on the year a worker attains age 62, becomes disabled before age 62, or dies before reaching age 62.

For 2022 these portions are the first $1,024, the amount between $1,024 and $6,172, and the amount over $6,172. These dollar amounts are the “bend points” of the 2022 PIA formula.


How do you determine how much Social Security you will get - REDW Wealth

How should married couples claim their Social Security benefits?

Under spousal benefits, a worker’s spouse who has accumulated sufficient credits can be eligible for both retirement benefits and Medicare, providing all the other requirements are met.

Dual-income married couples have as many as eight Social Security benefits in the household. Each worker is entitled to their own benefit in addition to the potential benefits.


How should married couples claim their social security benefits - REDW Wealth

How do I apply for Social Security?

Enroll 90 days before you want benefits to begin. Social Security benefits may be claimed online, via a telephone call, or through a visit to a local office.

For those claiming benefits at age 62, the first month of eligibility is the month after your 62nd birthday. The online process is relatively simple, although there are frequent questions that may give you paths on how to answer. Sometimes REDW Wealth can assist you in walking through the claiming process using a screen-sharing program that lets us see your progress once you log into your account.


How do I apply for Social Security - REDW Wealth