Q. This year I will turn 62 in July and I want to know when can I sign up for my benefits?
A. You can get Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, you will receive a reduced benefit if you retire before your full retirement age. For example, if you retire at age 62, your benefit would be about 25 percent lower than what it would be if you waited until you reach full retirement age. You can continue to work and still receive retirement benefits. Your earnings in (or after) the month you reach your full retirement age will not reduce your Social Security benefits. However, your benefits will be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits for the months before you reach your full retirement age. If you are younger than full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 in earnings you have above $15,480.00.
In the year you reach your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced $1 for every $3 you earn over $41,400.00 until the month you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, you can keep working, and your Social Security benefit will not be reduced no matter how much you earn.
A special monthly rule applies to your earnings for one year, usually your first year of retirement. Under this rule, you can receive a full Social Security check for any month you earn under a certain limit, regardless of your yearly earnings.
You can apply for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov. You may apply as early as three months before your birthday.
Q. I have children at home, and I plan to retire next fall. Will my children be eligible for monthly Social Security payments after I retire?
A. Your children may get monthly Social Security payments if they are:
* Unmarried and under age 18;
* Age 19 and still in high school; or
* Age 18 or over and became severely disabled before age 22 and continue to be disabled.
For more information, read Benefits For Children available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Gregory Holmes is district manager for Social Security in Chattanooga.