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Retirement: Social Security is an essential piece of the puzzle

Your social security benefits can provide income for your spouse. At the same time, you keep working or increase the support of an ex-spouse in a divorce. For example, a Homemaker with minimal social security in his name can benefit from his wife’s social security earnings. Or a divorcing spouse could share in her former spouse’s benefits, giving both essential incomes in their golden years. Social Security and Medicare benefits are critical in any plan. Keep in mind the following:

1. Get your social security benefit statement online at www.ssa.gov/mystatement.

2. Sign up for Medicare 3 months before turning age 65 to avoid a delay in your coverage and a possible penalty for late enrollment. Include the costs of supplemental insurance to cover the uninsured portions of your medical care in your retirement plan.

3. Wait as long as you can to begin your benefits. However, your life span will determine how much of the benefits you will enjoy:

  • The typical 65-year-old today lives to age 83
  • 1 in 4 65-year-olds live to age 90
  • 1 in 10 65-year-olds will live to age 95

4. Avoid a delay in your benefits plan to complete your application three months before the month in which you want your payments to begin.

5. Keep working and collect your benefits if you wish. You don’t have to quit your job to start receiving your benefits once you reach your full retirement age.

6. Check with social security to see if your spouse, or ex-spouse, will qualify for larger monthly payments based on your social security, rather than his.

*Taking time to understand your social security benefits will help you make decisions that enhance your retirement, your spouses, and possibly your “ex’s.” For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.org.

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