As you approach retirement, you’ll need to make a number of important decisions about matters like your Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, and retirement savings accounts such as 401(k)s.
The SSA’s Retirement Toolkit is intended to keep you informed along the way, letting you know which decisions you need to make at what age.
The earliest you can claim Social Security benefits is age 62, though your monthly benefits will be reduced if you begin collecting at this age. If you continue to work and earn above a certain amount, your monthly benefits will be reduced even further.
Once you reach your full retirement age, however, your monthly benefits will be increased permanently to account for any months your benefits were reduced because of earnings from work. The full retirement age is 66 if you were born between 1943-1954, and 67 if you were born after 1954.
If you delay claiming Social Security benefits until between 66 and 70, monthly benefits will increase for every month that you delay claiming.
The earliest you can claim Medicare benefits is age 65. If you don’t make a decision about Medicare at the right age, you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for your Medicare benefits. Medicare Part A covers hospital insurance and has no premium. Medicare Parts B (medical insurance) and D (prescription coverage) are subject to premiums and penalties.
If you have group health insurance, you’re able to postpone Medicare until you retire or your coverage ends. If you do not sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B.
You can sign up for Medicare Part D between October 15 – December 7 each year, or during special enrollment periods. You will need to select a drug plan, most of which charge a monthly premium.
The Retirement Toolkit can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire.