Courtesy: Social Security Administration
Wright Brothers Day, which is observed on Dec. 17, marks the day in 1903 when two adventurous brothers in Kitty Hawk, N.C., took to the air for the first time. It was a modern miracle at the time and a catalyst for the age of intercontinental travel. More than a century later, it’s commonplace for people to fly across the country. Most of us don’t consider all the preparation and patience it took to achieve this modern feat of flight.
Luckily, planning your financial future isn’t as daunting as pioneering modern aviation. Social Security has secure and easy-to-use online resources that can ensure your retirement soars above the clouds. The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better prepared you will be when it is time for you to retire. Just like building a reliable airplane, you will need finely tuned parts that will work together for you to take flight.
Think of your retirement strategy as a flight plan that propels you higher. We have many resources at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire that help you find the age at which you may first become entitled to unreduced retirement benefits, estimate your life expectancy and calculate your estimated benefits. These tools explain how much money you will need and for how long — something you can adjust through personal savings, pensions and other benefits.
You can also get personalized benefit estimates using the Retirement Estimator at www.social
security.gov/estimator. The Estimator shows different scenarios, such as how future wage changes or alternate retirement dates will affect your future benefits. Benefit amounts may differ from the estimates provided because:
• Your earnings may increase or decrease in the future.
• After you start receiving benefits, they may be adjusted for cost-of-living increases.
• Your estimated benefits are based on current law. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2034, the payroll taxes collected under current law will be enough to pay only about 79 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits.
• Your benefit amount may be affected by military service, railroad employment or pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax.
As you can see, your flight plan to retirement may change over your lifetime. It’s important that you understand that no matter where life takes you, the long journey to retirement is one of your most important trips. With every right decision, you are making your retirement flight plan a success that will carry you through the heights of your golden years.
It’s never too early to start planning. Whether you’re nearly ready to retire or just getting off the ground in your career, I recommend that you create your own my Social Security account so you can also learn about all the future benefits available to you. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to create your account.
Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s Public Affairs Specialist in Hawai‘i.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: I know that Social Security’s full retirement age is gradually rising to 67. Does this mean the “early” retirement age will also be going up by two years, from age 62 to 64?
Answer: No. While it is true that under current law, the full retirement age is gradually rising from 65 to 67, the “early” retirement age remains at 62. Keep in mind, however, that taking early retirement reduces your benefit amount. For more information about Social Security benefits, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Question: I’ve heard there is a way for my daughter to get her disability application on the “fast-track.” How does this work?
Answer: If your daughter has one of the more than 200 impairments on the Compassionate Allowances list at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances, her application might be “fast-tracked” for a decision. Compassionate Allowances make it possible for an applicant to receive a decision on his or her disability application within days, rather than months or years, as long as their medical conditions are so severe that they obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.