Social security benefits are essential for many older Americans. The Social Security Administration, who oversees the program, delivers millions of dollars every month to seniors.
According to AARP, the average Social Security benefit at age 62 is approximately $1,338 per month. This assumes the individual averaged $50,000 in annual income during their working years. That said, millions of retired Americans are struggling to make ends meet as inflation skyrockets.
“It’s just not enough,” Alice McGowan told FingerLakes1.com. “I didn’t have a pension with my work. I’m 68 now. Getting around a thousand dollars a month isn’t enough when the price of everything is going up. Even if you own your home outright, it’s still a real struggle.”
What’s the ideal time to claim benefits?
While claiming immediately at 62 is the right move for some retirees- it isn’t for everyone. For example, a person who earned $50,000 annually during their working years would receive a monthly benefit of $1,911 if they waited until 67.
That’s what the Social Security Administration considers full-retirement age.
Those who earn $50,000 per year during working years would receive $2,370 if waiting to claim until age 70.
What to do when your Social Security check isn’t enough?
Despite the fact that there was a 6% boost to Social Security benefits in form of cost of living adjustment- seniors are still feeling the financial pinch.
The IRS has resources, but experts also say seeking out assistance with health insurance and drug costs can be a big savings.
According to a 2015 study, half of eligible seniors participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “There tends to be a lot of misunderstanding about the program and a lot of stigma, and unfortunately that stands in the way of people seeking help,” Josh Protas told CNBC. He’s the vice president of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
Should you file a tax return if your income is mostly Social Security?
No. Filing a tax return isn’t necessary for most people if a majority of their income is derived from Social Security benefits. That question is often posed, and experts agree that while not necessary- there are other good reasons to file an income tax return.
A simple example would be stimulus checks that were sent out in 2021. Many Americans qualified but did not receive a stimulus check in the mail, or through direct deposit. Filing an income tax return is the only way to get that processed at this point.
Check out this helpful link from the IRS on specific instances where social security benefits can be taxable.
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