For social programs that aid the low income and disabled people in our society; Social Security and Medicare are often misunderstood. The main aim of these multi-use programs is for the retired and aging populations who have paid in to these systems throughout their working lives in advance. These funds are usually used to support those using social benefits currently with the promise that funds would be there for them in their retirement. For many people, these funds are usually cornerstone to retirement, so having accurate and accessible information available is very important.

Social Security was created in the mid-1930s, under President Roosevelt’s term, in response to the devastation seen during the great depression. Social security was the government’s response to fighting the destitution and poverty that was present throughout many families and individual lives. As the years have gone by, social security programs have progressed and reformed to include more groups of people and varying circumstances.

In the mid-1960s, Medicare was created as a way to help provide medical care to people having mainly the aging population in mind that could not otherwise get health insurance. Just like social security, Medicare has expanded over the years. It has not only provided resources to disabled, ill and low income people, it has also served the aging population as a way to have guaranteed health coverage in their later years as well. Let us hop in to who and when of the social security system now that we are done with the background history of Social Security and Medicare.

People eligible for social security benefits would be able to start collecting as early as 62 according to ssa.gov. However, if you start collecting benefits before “full” retirement age (67 for those born after 1960 and varied ages if born previous to ‘60) your benefit will be reduced comparatively.

This SSA publication (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10035.pdf) states your benefit at 62 will be 27.5% less than if retiring at your indicated full retirement age. You will also need 40 credits (approx. 10 working years) of paying into social security in order to qualify to receive benefits.

You can start receiving higher benefit at full retirement age but you have the opportunity of swinging it. Receiving the benefits is more advantageous when it is received at age 70. There are still positive outcomes if you wait a few months before you collect it of you can’t wait till age 70. There will be an increase in your future monthly check for every month you postpone collecting earnings. There are no increased benefits after the age 70. You can receive an additional 8% benefit for every year past full retirement. This can add up to be a huge plus for the long term by delaying the collection of benefits even slightly. For many people, especially those who are still earning, it is realistic to put off benefits for a higher long term amount. There are also benefits for widows and widowers as well as minor children in some cases, so be sure to inquire directly with questions around those circumstances. For other considerations and guidelines to be considered, follow the link at the end of the article to connect to the ssa.gov website publication directly.

Things work a bit differently when it comes to Medicare benefits. There is no benefit in waiting longer than the Medicare eligibility age and it can even cause premiums to go up. What the SSA suggests is to sign up for Medicare approx. 3 months before your 65th birthday. If you are already enrolled in social security, this will be automatic. However, if you are delaying social security benefits, you will need to sign up for Medicare manually. If you are late to sign up, you may also have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Get your facts early and research wisely when you are preparing for retirement. Misinformation is many when it comes to social security and Medicare floating around. You can seek counseling directly from the administration for any ambiguous questions and feel more confident in your ability to retire.