More than retirement

Posts of last week emphasized the need for retirement planning, the value of Social Security benefits in retirement and the importance of having other income in addition to your Social Security. 

Social Security is far more than just retirement. With disability and survivors benefits, it should be an important part of your financial planning, no matter what your age, but especially for people early in their working years with young families. Based on your employment, Social Security helps provide a financial floor of protection at all ages for now, not only for some distant retirement point. 

Disability and death are not popular discussion topics. They happen anyway. In fact, if a younger worker, your chances of becoming disabled are probably greater than you realize. Social Security information shows that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.  

Social Security disability benefits can provide valuable help to you and your family. SSA disability has both work and medical requirements, with benefits only for a total disability expected to last at least a year. If you are eligible, payments to you and eligible family members can continue as long as you remain disabled. After two years, Medicare coverage based on receiving disability begins for you, no matter what your age. In addition, Social Security disability has many work incentives to help you retain benefits as you reenter the workforce.  

Including benefits to the disabled worker and eligible family members, disability payments accounted for 19 percent of Social Security benefits paid nationally, as of December 2012. 

Death is not just for the old. If you have enough work, Social Security survivors benefits are payable to eligible family members. The amount of work needed for survivors benefits, measured in Social Security credits, depends on your age when you die. The younger a person is, the fewer credits he or she needs for family members to receive survivors benefit.

Survivors benefits, to people of all ages, accounted for 11 percent of Social Security benefits paid nationally, as of December 2012.

How do you estimate Social Security amounts for disability and survivors benefits? Easy. Establish your personal my Social Security account and use it to see your Social Security Statement. The second page of the Statement shows if you have enough work for benefits and provides current estimates based on your actual earnings record. Your earnings record is also on the Statement, so check it for accuracy.

Social Security is far more than just retirement. With disability and survivors benefits, it should be an important part of your financial planning, no matter what your age.

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