CBS News “Money Watch” recently aired a segment on the 5 most common misconceptions about Social Security. These misconceptions are:
1.) You must be a U.S. Citizen to receive Social Security benefits.
False. If you are a resident alien and have a green card which permits you to live and work in the U.S., you may qualify to receive Social Security benefits as long as you meet other criteria, such as having worked for 10 years in the U.S.
2.) The full retirement age for receiving Social Security Retirement benefits is 65.
False. The Social Security Administration determines your full retirement age, which is the age when you can receive your full retirement benefit, based upon the year of your birth. For people born between 1943 and 1954 (the baby boomers) that age is 66. For people born after 1954 your full retirement age ranges from 66 and 2 mos of age to age 67. All workers may retire and receive benefits at age 62, but the amount you receive will be less than if you wait until your full retirement age to start receiving benefits. Medicare benefits, however, do start at age 65.
3.) If you continue to work after retirement, regardless of your age, you will have to give back some of your Social Security Retirement benefits.
This is only true if you choose to start receiving your Social Security Retirement benefits before your full retirement age. If you start receiving your retirement benefits before your full retirement age, for every 2 dollars ($2.00) you earn above a certain limit, Social Security will withhold $1.00 of your benefit. The earnings limit in 2015 is $15,720. If you continue working past your full retirement age, you are not subject to the earnings limit and your benefit will not be affected by your wages.
4.) I can collect Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouses earnings history.
This is true only if you and your ex-spouse were married for at least 10 years, you are over 62, and you have not remarried. You must meet each of these 3 criteria to get benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings history. This benefit is gender neutral and applies to both ex-husbands and ex-wives.
5.) If my spouse passes away, I can receive his or her Social Security Retirement benefit as well as my own.
Sorry, this is not true. This is referred to as “double-dipping” and it is not permitted. When your spouse dies, you can collect his or her benefit, rather than your own benefit, but you would not want to do this unless your deceased spouse’s benefit amount was greater than your own.
If you have any questions about social security benefits and what you are entitled to, it is recommended that you consult with experienced legal counsel about your situation.