Social Security Essentials
How do I get a new Social Security card?
Start by creating an account at My Social Security. You'll need to be a U.S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address. You'll also need a driver's license or state-issued ID card. In Delaware, Nevada, and Wisconsin, you must have a driver's license. If you live in Alaska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, West Virginia, or a U.S. territory such as Guam or Puerto Rico, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office to get a replacement card.
Is Social Security taxable?
If you make a sizable income over and above your Social Security benefits, such as through dividends, interest, or wages, you may have to pay tax on up to 85% of your benefits. That means if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your combined income is more than $25,000, if you file a joint return and you and your spouse have a combined income of more than $32,000, or if you're married and file a separate tax return you'll likely have to pay. Your combined income is your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest plus half of your Social Security benefits.
How do I apply for Social Security?
You can apply for Social Security benefits by phone at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office, but the easiest way is to apply online on the Social Security Administration's website. You will be asked to agree to the Terms of Service, and you'll be asked questions about who you are to verify you are eligible. Ensure you have all the information you need before beginning the process, such as your employment details and direct deposit banking information. The process should take between 10 and 30 minutes, and you can save your application along the way.
How do I check on my Social Security status?
If you applied for Social Security benefits, have a pending reconsideration request, or a hearing request, you can check the status online through a My Social Security account. On this page you will be able to see the date of your request and its current status, any scheduled hearing dates and times, and office locations. You'll also be able to use this account to request replacement SSN cards, estimate future benefits, and manage benefits you may already get.
How are Social Security benefits calculated?
Average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) are used to calculate the primary insurance amount (PIA). That is used to determine your Social Security benefits. Your AIME considers the 35 years of peak earnings, which are then indexed to factor in wage growth and averaged to produce a monthly figure. That is the amount you'll receive at your full retirement age.
What is the full retirement age for Social Security?
You can get Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. But the full retirement age for those born in 1960 or later is 67. If you were born from 1943 to 1954 it is 66. For those born between 1955 and 1960, the full retirement age gradually increases. If you delay taking benefits beyond your full retirement age, the amount of your retirement benefit will continue to increase up until you reach age 70.
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Program
The formal name of Social Security is the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Program. This program provides benefits to retired adults, and people with disabilities, their spouses, children, and survivors. OASDI taxes taken out by your employer fund the program.
Social Security Tax
The tax levied on employers and employees that funds the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program are known as the Social Security tax. It is either a payroll tax mandated by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or a self-employment tax mandated by the Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA).
Social Security Benefits
Social Security benefits are payments made to qualified, retired adults and their spouses, and individuals with disabilities and their spouses, children, and survivors. This federal program is designed to offer partial replacement income for those who qualify.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that offers additional income to individuals with limited income. Specifically, it is a program for older adults in need and people with disabilities in the form of monthly cash distributions. These payments are separate from Social Security retirement benefits.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
The Social Security Administration makes increases to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to counteract the effects of inflation. These COLAs are typically equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earnings and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
Social Security Trust Fund
The Social Security Trust Fund actually refers to two accounts used by the U.S. government to manage the surplus contributions to the Social Security system. That surplus is invested in interest-bearing Treasury bonds to increase the value of the fund.
Full Retirement Age (FRA)
Also known as normal retirement age, Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you are eligible to receive full benefits from Social Security. The exact age varies based on the eyar you were born. Claiming benefits before this age decreases your benefits permanently.
Explore Social Security
Social Security Administration. "Create Your Personal My Social Security Account Today."
Social Security Administration. "Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefit."
Social Security Administration. "Apply for Retirement Benefits."
Social Security Administration. "Learn About Retirement Benefits."