10 Social Security Myths That Boomers Need to Stop Spreading

Social Security is a crucial part of retirement planning, yet it’s surrounded by misconceptions. How much do you really know about your benefits?

#1. Social Security Is Going Bankrupt

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It’s not going bankrupt; Social Security funds are projected to be sufficient until 2034. After that, the system can still pay 79% of benefits even without further reforms.

#2. You Should Claim Benefits at 62

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Claiming as soon as you’re eligible at 62 means your benefits are reduced for life. Delaying your claim increases your monthly benefits.

#3. Social Security Is Tax-Free

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Not quite—depending on your combined income, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.

#4. Benefits Are Based on Last Years of Work

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Your benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-earning years, not just your last few years of employment.

#5. It’s Best to Work as Long as Possible

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While working longer can increase your benefit amount, it’s not always necessary. Once you’ve reached your 35 highest-earning years, additional work may not significantly boost your benefits.

#6. You Can’t Work While Receiving Social Security

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You can work while receiving benefits, but if you’re younger than full retirement age, there’s a limit on how much you can earn before it affects your benefits.

#7. Social Security Only Helps the Elderly

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Social Security also provides survivor benefits, disability benefits, and benefits for dependents.

#8. The Money You Put In Is What You Get Out

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Social Security is not a personal savings account but a pooled fund that provides a safety net based on your earnings history.

#9. All States Treat Social Security the Same

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Thirteen states tax Social Security benefits, so where you live can affect your net income from Social Security.

#10. There’s a Best Age for Everyone to Claim Benefits

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The best age to claim benefits depends on individual circumstances, including health, financial needs, and employment status.

#11. Married Couples Get Double Benefits

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Each individual’s benefit is calculated separately. Couples can strategize their claims to maximize household income, but they don’t automatically receive double benefits.

#12. Divorcees Lose Benefits

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If your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you might be eligible for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings, even after divorce.

#13. Children Can’t Receive Social Security

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Dependent children and, in some cases, grandchildren can receive benefits if a parent or grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies.

#14. Social Security Is Only for Retirement

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Besides retirement, Social Security provides disability insurance and survivor benefits, which protect you and your family from different life events.

#15. You Get More Over Time by Claiming Early

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Claiming early reduces your monthly benefit amount permanently. Over time, claiming later usually results in receiving more total benefits.

#16. Benefits Are the Same Nationwide

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The amount you receive can vary based on your earnings record, when you claim benefits, and where you live, due to state taxation.

#17. Social Security Can Fully Fund Retirement

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Social Security is designed to replace only about 40% of the average retiree’s pre-retirement income. Most people will need additional savings.

#18. It Doesn’t Matter When You Claim If You’re Healthy

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Even if you’re in good health, claiming later can provide more financial security as you age, especially if you live longer than expected.

#19. You Must Be a U.S. Citizen to Collect

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Non-citizens who are legal residents and have worked legally in the U.S. can qualify for Social Security benefits.

#20. My Benefit Amount Is Fixed When I Retire

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Your benefits can increase after you start receiving them due to annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) based on inflation.

Understanding Your Options

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Understanding the realities of Social Security can help you make informed decisions that maximize your benefits and secure your financial future. Don’t let myths cloud your planning—get the facts, and plan accordingly for a stable and fulfilling retirement.

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The post 10 Social Security Myths That Boomers Need to Stop Spreading first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.