Social Security and You

    When it comes to Social Security retirement benefits, your decision shouldn’t be based on “one-size-fits-all” assumptions. Your age, marital status, health and financial needs are all important considerations.

    Test Your Social Security Knowledge

    How You Qualify
    If you work and pay taxes into Social Security, you may already know that this tax is withheld from your salary.

    Social Security taxes are part of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. This federal payroll (or employment) tax is paid equally by many (but not all) employers and their employees. If you are self-employed, this tax is paid entirely by you. FICA taxes are used to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits.

    Eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits is determined by the Social Security retirement credits you have accumulated over your working life and by your “full retirement age”.

    Social Security Retirement Credits
    During your working years, you earn “credits” toward your Social Security benefits. The number of credits required to receive Social Security retirement benefits depends on when you were born. Anyone born in 1929 or later must have 40 credits (10 years of work) to qualify.1

    Social Security only pays retirement benefits if you have accumulated the required number of credits. If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, the credits you have earned will remain on your Social Security record. If you return to work later on, you can earn more credits.

    Know Your Full Retirement Age
    Full retirement age is the age at which you are entitled to receive full Social Security retirement benefits. Full retirement age is based on the year you were born.



    Your “primary insurance amount”
    Your primary insurance amount – or PIA – is the benefit you would receive if you begin receiving retirement benefits at your full retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.2

    Filing for Benefits

    The Social Security Administration website at provides a wealth of information on Social Security retirement benefits. It’s also where you can create your own “My Social Security” page to securely view your earnings history and the estimated benefits you may receive at different filing ages.

    The age at which you begin receiving benefits is one of the most important factors affecting the amount of your monthly benefit.

    This chart shows the effects that claiming age has on a hypothetical monthly Social Security benefit of $1,000; it assumes a full retirement age (FRA) of 66.The chart shows that when benefits are claimed:

    • At full retirement age – The full monthly benefit of $1,000 is paid.
    • Before full retirement age – The monthly benefit gradually reduces. If benefits are claimed at age 62, only $750 would be paid each month – a 25% decrease.
    • After full retirement age – The monthly benefit increases for every year claiming is delayed, up until age 70. In this case, the monthly benefit at age 70 has increased to $1,320 – a 32% increase. This increase is due to delayed retirement credits.

    The power of delayed retirement credits
    For each year after full retirement age that you delay taking benefits, delayed retirement credits increase your monthly benefit amount. The percentage of increase depends on the year you were born.

    If you were born in 1943 or later, your benefit increases by 8% each year until you reach age 70. After that, no additional delayed retirement credits are earned.3

    Working After You Begin Collecting

    You can keep working after Social Security retirement or survivors benefits begin. If you are at full retirement age or older, there is no reduction of your Social Security benefits, regardless of how much you earn from work.

    Before your full retirement age, earnings are subject to an “earnings test.” If your income exceeds a specified amount, Social Security will withhold all or a portion of your benefits.

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    1 Source: Social Security Administration Benefits Planner: Retirement Credits at

    2 Source: Social Security Administration, Retirement Planner: Full Retirement Age,

    3 Source: Social Security Administration,

    The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

    Final decisions about Social Security filing strategies always rest with you and should always be based on your specific needs and health considerations. It is important to acquire as much information as possible in order to make an informed Social Security claiming decision because one year after the Social Security claiming decision is made, the options for change are extremely limited.

    The Social Security program was created by an Act of Congress. It is subject to change. In the past, Congress has made changes to the law which has had an impact on Social Security benefits. Congress can make changes to the law at any time, which might impact benefits in the future.