Given the 2,700+ rules and guidelines in the Social Security handbook, it can be overwhelming when deciding the best choices to make for retirement. Disability Associates is here to be your guide and offer several helpful pointers to make your journey to Social Security disability smooth.

By doing your homework, reading the following tips and fully maximizing your benefits, you should have more freedom and security as you age. It’s important to note that cashing in your Social Security benefits ultimately comes down to personal circumstances, but these guidelines are a strong lead in the right direction.

In some states you can collect unemployment and Social Security simultaneously

A person can be unemployed while also retired in certain states. If you collect from both agencies, you must report the income received from both sources. Although receiving unemployment benefits will not affect your Social Security payments, collecting Social Security may reduce your unemployment. So, be sure to check with your local Social Security professional regarding your unique situation to make the most of your benefits.

You may collect more Social Security even after withdrawing and repaying

As long as you repay all of the benefits received, you may withdraw your Social Security claim and then reapply at a later date – when you will receive higher benefits based on your age. The rules were changed by the SSA after same-time claim withdrawals were becoming more common. You are only able to withdraw your claim within 12 months of receiving benefits, and you can only withdraw a claim once in the duration of your life.

Delaying your divorce can mean accruing more benefits

If you were married for at least 10 years and are now divorced, you may be eligible to collect spousal benefits. Thus, if you are considering getting divorce after roughly 9 and a half years, it would be in your best interest to delay – as it could mean more money for you and your ex-spouse. You must wait to collect until your ex-spouse is 62. If you are not 62 yet, you can still receive benefits at a reduced rate.

There’s no advantage to delaying spousal/survivor benefits after full retirement age

Delaying either your spousal or survivor benefits past your full retirement age will not result in any benefits. Your own retirement benefits will grow if you delay, but there’s no reason to wait to collect the benefits of others.

Usually, you won’t be penalized for working

If you take retirement, spousal or widow/widower benefits early and lose some or all of them as a result of Social Security’s earnings test, do not panic. The SSA will give you credit for the money they’ve docked in the form of permanently higher benefits once you reach full retirement age. However, if mother/father benefits are involved and you earn too much money, you will lose the docked money for good. This may be a good opportunity to involve a Social Security professional as to ensure you are not making any serious mistakes.

Widows and widowers can receive benefits for children under age 16

Father/mother benefits are available to widows and widowers who have a child under the age of 16. These benefits are available regardless of the survivor’s age and they will not be reduced. Be mindful that benefits are reduced if you take them before full retirement age, but mother/father benefits are not, so it’s often wise to take the mother/father benefit first.

Your children could potentially receive benefits if you’re collecting retirement

If you still have young children when you retire, they can collect child benefits through and including age 17 (or age 19 if still in secondary school). These child benefits are available only if you or your spouse or ex-spouse are collecting retirement benefits.

Although it is not possible to predict everything that will come of your Social Security experience, it’s still extremely helpful to be prepared and mindful of what may happen. For more information on Social Security disability and what it means for you and your family, contact Disability Associates, LLC today.