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Social Security has vital role in economic security after retiring

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Q: How important is Social Security to retirement income?

A: Social Security has a pivotal role in economic security for those at least age 65 although it was never intended to provide complete retirement income. The range is wide but, on average, SSA benefits provide 40 percent of pre-retirement earnings, less than recommended for a comfortable retirement.

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According to the new SSA publication, Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2012,(www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/income_aged/2012/index.html) 86.8 percent of married couples aged 65 or over and 85.6 percent of individuals aged 65 or older received Social Security benefits.

Those benefits weare the major source of income, providing at least 50 percent of total income, for over 52 percent of the couples and 73 percent of the individuals. For many, Social Security provided 90 percent or more of income.

Overall income for people at least age 65 came largely from four sources in 2012. Rounding the numbers, Social Security accounted for 35 percent, earnings from employment for 34 percent, pensions for 17 percent, and asset income for 11 percent. About 3 percent was from other sources, including public assistance.

Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2012, has simple charts and tables showing overall income from Social Security, pensions, assets, earnings, and public assistance. Read it at www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/income_aged/2012/index.html.

Did You Know? Are you looking for a summer job, or new job for any reason? Do you have your Social Security number card (SSN)? If not, request a replacement card, at no charge, from Social Security.

To protect your personal information, a replacement SSN card cannot be ordered online. A printable application and instructions are at the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov.

Be sure that you go to the Social Security website. You are not at the agency website if asked for a credit card number.

Plan ahead. Local offices process Social Security number application but the SSN cards are mailed from a central location. Allow mailing time of approximately 2 weeks to receive your new card.

Employers can verify employee SSN’s online with the free SSA Business Services. Learn more and register at www.ssa.gov/pgm/business.htm.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.  

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