Although Social Security is one of the most important entitlement programs in America, it’s also one of the most widely misunderstood, with the majority of people lacking some fundamental knowledge about how it works.
And not only do millions have knowledge gaps about their retirement benefits, but unfortunately, many also believe things that simply aren’t true. That can be a big problem if you’re making retirement decisions based on incorrect information or misconceptions, such as these three common Social Security myths.
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1. Social Security is going broke
Millions of Americans worry that Social Security benefits won’t be available to them by the time they hit retirement age, because they fear the benefits program is going broke. This is a misplaced fear, though, as Social Security cannot run out of money unless its source of revenue is changed (which isn’t likely to happen, even though President Trump has indicated he’s in support of modifying it).
Currently, Social Security gets the bulk of its income through payroll taxes. As long as people are working and the tax is being collected, the program will have money coming in. What could happen, though, is that Social Security’s trust fund might run out in 2035 and the program may only be able to pay benefits out of taxes being collected. This would necessitate a 24% cut to benefits if changes aren’t made — but retirees would still get most of what they were promised.
2. Social Security benefits will go up if you claim them early
Many seniors claim Social Security before their full retirement age (FRA) — which is between 66 and 67 — while operating under the erroneous belief they’ll get lower payments now but will see their benefits go up at FRA. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the