If your financial or employment situation has changed due to coronavirus, you may be rethinking your Social Security claiming strategy. While you can claim Social Security benefits as early as age 62, you will receive a permanently smaller benefit. If you wait to claim past your full retirement age, your benefit will increase by 6 – 8% per year you defer until age 70. This can make balancing immediate needs with long-term financial well-being difficult. There are so many ways to claim Social Security and what strategy is best depends on your unique financial situation, which may have changed recently. Here’s what to consider before claiming Social Security early due to financial hardship.
CARES Act Expands Unemployment Benefits
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you lost your job or were furloughed because of the coronavirus shutdown. The CARES Act also includes unemployment benefits for the self-employed. Payments are based on how much you were earning and aim to replace half of your previous income.
CARES Act 401(k) Loans and In-service Distributions
Many 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans allow for loans of up to $50,000 or half of the vested account balance. The CARES Act has temporarily modified this loan rule: Most 401(k) participants can now borrow up to $100,000 or 100% of the vested amount – whichever is less. Those who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced can take an in-service distribution from their IRA. Normally, there is a 10% early withdrawal penalty for those who withdraw from their retirement account before age 59 ½. The CARES Act waives this penalty for withdrawals of up to $100,000. This may also have an impact on retirement savings as they may lose out on growth from funds that were withdrawn. You can also take up to three years to pay the tax on the distribution. For more information, see a guide to the CARES Act for Americans Age 50 and Over.
Claim and Suspend Benefits
If you think you need to claim earlier than you originally planned, keep in mind that you have one year after claiming to suspend benefits. If you find another job in the next year, you can repay your benefits and go back into deferral. This way, you can still receive a larger monthly benefit by delaying your Social Security benefits. There are so many ways to claim Social Security, and a qualified financial advisor can help you decide or update your strategy.
An earlier retirement date or market downturn might upend your financial plans and Social Security claiming strategy. A qualified financial professional can help you balance your short-term needs with your long-term financial goals and help you create an income plan to replace your paycheck to help ensure you don’t run out of money later in retirement. You can contact us to schedule a complimentary review to discuss.