They say that knowledge is power. That’s certainly true when it comes to your finances.
According to the newly released 2018 MassMutual Social Security survey, 47% of Americans couldn’t get a passing score on a basic five-question quiz about Social Security benefits.
But here at Clark.com, we believe our readers are smarter than the average American when it comes to money matters. So we decided to come up with a quiz of our own. You’ll find the answers down below — we trust you not to cheat!
Can you ace the test? Good luck!
10 questions to test your Social Security knowledge
Question 1: What is the average monthly Social Security check for retirees?
Answer: The average Social Security check is $1,404, according to the latest December 2017 numbers from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Question 2: True or False: Your monthly Social Security benefit will be reduced if you start taking benefits at 65…
Answer: True. Anytime you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit will be reduced.
Question 3: The maximum monthly check you can receive at your full retirement age is…
Answer: In 2017, the maximum that any worker taking benefits at full retirement age could receive was $2,687 a month. But for 2018, that cap is being raised so the max monthly benefit can be as high as $2,788 a month.
Question 4: Social Security looks at a certain number of your highest-earning years to calculate your monthly benefit. What number of years is that?
Answer: Your 35 highest-earnings years are used to calculate your monthly Social Security benefit. That’s why negotiating a raise or a higher offer at a new employer is a great idea. So is taking on a second gig like a work-at-home job. They’re both really beneficial in the short term and the long run!
Question 5: Social Security statements are still mailed periodically to all workers…True or false?
Answer: False. It used to be that your statement — detailing your earnings history and expected benefits at retirement — arrived in your mailbox every five years. But that’s no longer the case.
The SSA no longer mails Social Security statements to anyone under 60 in an effort to save money and trees. To see your earnings statement, you’ve now got to create a free my Social Security account.
But before you sign up for your account, here are five things you should know first…
Question 6: There was a 2% increase in monthly Social Security payments in 2018…True or false?
Answer: True. More than 66 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients received a 2% boost in benefits compared to last year. That cost-of-living adjustment was the largest such increase since 2012. It amounted to roughly a $25 monthly increase for the average beneficiary.
Question 7: You’re allowed to earn a certain amount of income while in retirement without having your benefits reduced. What is the cap on those earnings?
Answer: If you choose to retire before your full retirement age, you can always opt to work part-time to supplement your income. In 2018, you’re allowed to earn up to $17,040/year ($1,420/month) without compromising your Social Security benefits. That’s up from $16,920 ($1,410/month) in 2017.
Question 8: Your spouse can receive Social Security retirement benefits, even if he or she has no individual earnings history….True or false?
Answer: True. Your spouse can get benefits even if he or she has never worked outside of the home. For your spouse to claim benefits, you as the income earner must be either receiving or eligible for retirement or disability benefits. Your spouse must also be 62. More info about spousal benefits is available at SSA.gov.
Question 9: If you were born in 1960 or anytime after, your full retirement age is …
Answer: Your full retirement age would be 67 if your were born in or after 1960. In order to have that milestone birthday of 65 as your full retirement age, you’d need to have been born in 1937 or earlier!
You can see the complete breakdown of birth years and full retirement ages here.
Question 10: The earliest you can begin claiming benefits is 62. But for every year you wait past 62, your Social Security benefit grows by what percent?
Answer: In the past, it was very common to retire and take Social Security at 62. Yet by delaying retirement, you get an 8% annual increase in benefits for every year you wait past 62.
So if you wait from 62 to 70, the amount that Social Security pays climbs dramatically. However, benefits no longer increase after age 70.
So…how did you do?
Just like in school, give yourself an A if you get only one or fewer questions wrong. Got two questions incorrect? Congrats, you earned yourself a B.
More of a C student? Then you only got three or fewer questions wrong. But if you got four questions wrong, that a D. Anything more than that is a big, fat F.
But don’t worry. You can always brush up on your Social Security knowledge right here at Clark.com!