Column, Money Matters

Can you pass this Social Security quiz?

By Kevin Theissen

Social Security provides retirement income for many, but according to Mass. Mutual Life Insurance, most Americans fail to demonstrate basic knowledge of Social Security benefits.

Mass. Mutual used a quiz to test peoples’ knowledge of Social Security retirement benefits and showed that about 35% of people age 55-65 failed and almost 20% earned a D. Only 3% answered all 12 questions correctly.

The study also showed that about 25% of individuals age 60-65 have no idea of the full retirement age.

Most individuals approaching retirement (83%) also are aware of the consequences of receiving Social Security benefits before reaching their full retirement age. Also, 86% know that if they receive benefits before their full retirement age and continue to work, their benefits may be reduced based on how much they make.

Not surprisingly, topics such as death and divorce and the impact on Social Security are on the minds of many because of Covid. The survey found that about 20% did not know that it is not true that if a spouse passes away one can receive both their and their spouse’s full benefits. Nearly 30% did not know that a divorced person might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s earnings history.

It should be known that because of the Covid’s impact on the economy, some people have seen their earnings reduced or eliminated. This is true because benefits are based on the top 35 years of earnings, and individuals with 35 or fewer years could be negatively impacted for life.

Here is the quiz: True or false

  1. If I take benefits before my full retirement age, they will be reduced for early filing.
  2. If I am receiving benefits before my full retirement age and continue to work, my benefits might be reduced based on how much I make.
  3. Once I start collecting Social Security, my benefits will never change.
  4. If I have a spouse, he or she can receive benefits from my record even if he or she has no individual earnings history.
  5. If I have a spouse and he or she passes away, I will receive both my full benefit and my deceased spouse’s full benefit.
  6. The money that comes out of my paycheck for Social Security goes into a specific account for me and remains there, earning interest, until I begin to receive Social Security benefits.
  7. Under current Social Security law, full retirement age is 65 no matter when you were born.
  8. As a divorced person, I might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouse’s earnings history.
  9. Under current law, Social Security benefits could be reduced for everyone in 2035.
  10. If I file for retirement benefits and have dependent children age 18 or younger, they also may qualify for Social Security benefits.
  11. If I delay taking Social Security benefits past the age of 70, I will continue to get delayed retirement credit increases each year I wait.
  12. I must be a U.S. citizen to collect Social Security retirement benefits.

Answers: 1. True 2. True 3. False 4. True
5. False 6. False 7. False 8. True 9. True 10. True 11. False 12. False

Kevin Theissen is the owner of HWC Financial in Ludlow.

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