Social Security Basics

Julia Carlson |

If you are like many Americans, you’ve worked and contributed to the Social Security system for most of your life. When it comes time to start thinking about taking Social Security income and what factors to consider, it is important to think through the pros and cons of this decision. It will not only impact your income for the rest of your life but potentially the income of your surviving spouse. The rules have changed considerably in the last few years and it’s important that Americans are educated on this once in a lifetime decision.

The first thing you must know and find out is when your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is. Your FRA is the age when you qualify for 100% of your Social Security benefits. Your FRA is based on your year you were born. For example, if you were born between 1943 and 1954 your FRA is 66. For me, born in 1977, my FRA is 67. A full chart is available at I would encourage you to visit the website and not only look up your FRA but also register for a profile where you can find your own income projections. Doing this can also help protect you against Identity theft and ensuring no one else is using your social security number.

There are three main options when it comes to choosing when to start collecting your benefits. The first is starting early or prior to your FRA. The second is collecting at your FRA and lastly, starting after your FRA. You can start collecting SS as early as 62 but doing so reduces your benefits by up to 30% depending on year you start. People do this either because of an income need or because of the thought that you will collect income over a longer period. If you waited until your FRA, you will receive 100% of your benefit. The pros of waiting until after your FRA is that your income will increase 8% annually up to a maximum of 32% at age 70. These are called delayed credits.

There are many other points to consider and in the coming weeks I will discuss them. I am happy to answer any of your Social Security questions and you can email me at    

Julia Carlson is a Registered Principal with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Financial Planning offered through Fit Money, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group and Fit Money, LLC are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Information in this material is for general information only and not intended as investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult the appropriate professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation prior to making any financial decision.

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