When you can apply for your full Social Security benefit depends on the year during which you were born. For people born between 1943 and 1954 full retirement age in the eyes of the Social Security Administration is 66. After this it goes up by two months per year until 1960; for people who were born in 1960 and later full retirement age is 67. We would like to include the caveat “as of this writing” because there’s a lot of talk about altering the Social Security system coming out of Washington DC these days and changes in the eligibility age would come as no great surprise.
It should be noted that you don’t have to retire when you reach full retirement age. You can choose to retire at the age of 62 and accept a reduced benefit. On the other end of the spectrum, you can work beyond your full retirement age up until the age of 70 and receive delayed retirement credits for each year that you work beyond your full retirement age that will increase your benefit when you do apply for Social Security.
The amount of the benefit that you receive is based on how much you paid into the program over the years. People who did not work enough to contribute a base amount into the Social Security program are not eligible for benefits.
However, people who are at least 65 years old can qualify for SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income. As it stands today this can provide up to $674 per month to a single individual. There are stringent requirements however, and one of them states that you cannot receive SSI if you have total assets that exceed $2000. But some significant assets don’t count toward this number, like your home and your car. Another benefit inherent in receiving SSI is that you’re automatically qualified for Medicaid.
If you’re interested in exploring how government programs for seniors can fit into your long-term plan, simply arrange for a consultation with an experienced elder law attorney.