Millions of Americans struggle to get by on a fixed income when collecting Social Security.
On top of that, inflation has all but cancelled out the 5.9% COLA increase that went into effect this year.
Inflation has reached 7% for Dec., making it the highest rate in 40 years.
How to get the most out of Social Security benefits by choosing the right benefit
There are various types of benefits, and here are a few of them.
SSI, or Supplemental Security Income
SSI can go to eligible seniors and is worth a maximum of $841 per month.
The average jumped by $34 this year thanks to the COLA increase, making the average monthly payment $621 each month.
SSI goes to children and adults with a disability or who are blind that have a specifically low income.
If you’re 65 or older, you don’t need a disability but you do need to meet the financial eligibility requirements.
Some seniors collect both Social Security and SSI.
Full Retirement Age benefits
Waiting until your full retirement age will give you the full benefit each month that you’re entitled to.
Retiring early at age 62 will cut your benefit by up to 30%.
By waiting until 70, you can see an increase by around 8% for each year you delay retirement.
If you don’t qualify for your own benefits, you could qualify for up to half of your spouse’s.
In order to qualify, you need to be at least 62, or any other age if you’re caring for a child entitled to the benefits under age 16 or disabled.
If you choose to collect before your own full retirement age, the benefits will be permanently reduced.
If you collect benefits and die, some of your family members that depended on them could qualify.
Widows age 60 and older may collect benefits, or at age 50 if they’re disabled.
They may also receive benefits if caring for a child of the deceased that’s under 16 or disabled.
Survivors will sometimes qualify for a one time payment of $255 if they apply for the benefit within two years of the death.
SSDI is an option for someone who becomes disabled after working long enough and recently.
You need to have paid Social Security taxes before you became disabled.
Your disability must have lasted or be expected to last one year or result in death.
The benefit lasts until the SSA feels you don’t qualify.
Children and Benefits
Sometimes if you qualify for benefits, your child can too.
The child can be adopted, a stepchild, or biological. Some grandchildren qualify as well.
Benefits end when the child turns 18 unless they’re disabled.
Benefits will continue if a child is still in school up to age 19.
Divorced Spouse Benefits
Ex spouses may meet the criteria for receiving disability from their ex.
The divorced spouse seeking benefits from their ex needs to have been married to them for at least 10 years and be 62 years old.
They cannot be eligible for equal or higher benefits on their own or someone else’s benefits.
Any amount they collect on your behalf will not impact your payments.