Only 1 in 300 Seniors Know These 5 Social Security Rules

Feb 18, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

In 2019, 64 million Americans were estimated to have received Social Security benefits, and for more than half of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security represented over 50% of their income. Nonetheless, a recent SimplyWise survey found that less than one in eight Americans aged 60 to 70 considered themselves “very knowledgeable” on the topic. Worse, only one out of 300 people asked knew the correct answer to all five of the following questions. These questions are fundamental and confusions lead to people missing out on income they desperately need.

Question 1: Claiming at which age maximizes your monthly earned Social Security benefit? Correct answer: 70. How many people got it right: 42%. Most common wrong answer: 35% of people believe that you earn the maximum monthly benefit at full retirement age.

Question 2: For non-disabled people, what is the earliest age you can receive survivors benefits? Correct answer: 60. How many people got it right: 9%. Most common wrong answer: 21% of people believe that the age is 62.

Question 3: Does your spouse need to be receiving Social Security benefits for you to qualify for spousal benefits? Correct answer: Short answer: Yes. When it comes to collecting spousal benefits on an ex-spouse’s record, however, this is not necessary. How many people got it right: 20%.

Question 4: Can divorced spouses receive survivor benefits? Correct answer: Yes. The criteria differ slightly from those of married spouses—for example, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years and there are rules around remarriage—but divorced spouses can collect survivor benefits in relation to a deceased ex-spouse. How many people got it right: 38%.

Question 5: Can divorced spouses receive spousal benefits?Correct answer: Yes. As is the case for survivor benefits, some differences do exist when applying Social Security rules to divorcees as opposed to married couples, but divorced spouses are eligible for spousal benefits. How many people got it right: 67%.

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