Social Security: 5 Facts You Must Know

By: Jordan DiPietro

Social security is a complicated program, yet you cannot afford to NOT know everything you should about your benefits. Even knowing this, it can be hard to find the information you need in order to make the most informed decisions for you and your family.

In the following TOP 5 list below, The Motley Fool’s Financial Planning Team reveals five essential, but little known facts, about the Social Security Program and how it will affect millions of Americans. Although most people expect Social Security to be there for them when they retire, they could be wrong – and by then it might be too late.

Number 5: Social Security is Massive
In 2014, over 59 million Americans will receive Social Security. Among them are:

  • 38 million retired workers
  • 9 million survivors and dependents
  • 11 million disabled workers and dependents

Number 4: The Elderly Could Not Survive Without This Program
Many elderly Americans heavily rely on Social Security; it's the major income source for most older Americans. In fact, 9 out of 10 people age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, which at times comprises 38% of income. Even more important, half of married couples and three quarters of singles receive at least half their retirement income from Social Security.

Number 3: The workforce is shrinking
Demographics are not in our favor as fewer workers support more retirees. In 1950 there were 16 workers per Social Security recipient. In 1960 there were 5 workers per recipient. By the year 2033, only 2.1 workers will support one retiree.

Number 2: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up
Social Security relies on its trust fund in order to cover shortfalls between taxes paid and benefits paid. The trust fund is projected to run out of money in 2033. Once that happens, retirees can only expect to receive about 75% of the benefits they would have received.

Number 1: The #1 Way to Increase Your Benefits
Every year you wait to claim social security benefits until age 70 you will boost your annual payouts by 8%. Waiting until you're 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66 and you can receive 76% more than taking them at age 62. If you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and if you live past age 82, you will receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you had waited until full retirement age.

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