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The State of Older Americans and Saving

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By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager

The numbers are shocking.

  • In 2012, the average credit card debt among adults aged 65+ was $9,283 (Demos).

  • One-third of senior households has no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses (Institute on Assets and Social Policy).

  • The share of Americans 65 and older in the labor force went from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 16.1 percent in 2010 (Census).

  • 60 percent of women over 65 across the country lack the incomes to meet basic expenses (Wider Opportunities for Women).

America Saves is stressing the need for all Americans to save for their future. With Americans, especially women, living longer – the reality is that Americans need to save more money for retirement or to work longer.

Tips to Prepare to Live Debt Free in Retirement

  1. Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals

  2. Know how much you will need for retirement

  3. Save at work and/or through a Roth IRA

  4. Find places to cut back so you can save more

Already Retired and Need Help: You Gave, Now Save

Millions of low-income seniors continue to miss out on nearly $1.2 billion in benefits (PDF) that can help them pay for their health care, prescriptions, food, utilities, and more. These aren’t handouts—by working hard their whole lives, older adults have paid into the programs that can now provide them support needed to remain healthy and independent.

  • BenefitsCheckUp —a service of the National Council on Aging (NCOA)—is the nation’s most comprehensive web-based service offering information on benefits programs, specifically programs for people with Medicare and limited income and resources.

  • The Eldercare Locator, a public service of AoA and administered by n4a, is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with information on senior services. The Locator is available both online Eldercare.gov and as a toll-free hotline at 1-800-677-1116.

Social Security and Retirement Plan

Many people like to get a head start on planning their family’s economic future. And without a doubt, a major part of that process concerns retirement.

When planning your own retirement, it’s important to consider factors such as your current economic situation, your future needs, and if you will be depending on other sources of income.

Social Security is an essential part in planning your retirement from the work force, and so it’s recommended that you get to know some of its most important aspects.

1.  Retirement Age

In order to retire and be able to collect Social Security benefits, you must be at least 62 years-old. However, if you begin to collect at that age, the funds will be permanently reduced. If instead you decide to retire at age 67, you will be able to collect your full benefits.

See the Social Security department’s Retirement Planner for further information.

2. Number of Social Security Credits Needed to Retire

In addition to reaching retirement age, you should also have accumulated a total of 40 credits. You earn credits depending on the number of years you worked. Generally you get four credits for every year you’ve worked.

If you’ve already accumulated 40 credits and you’d like to know the amount of money that you’d collect during your retirement, you can create an online Social Security account and receive a copy of your benefits.

If you don’t have the required 40 credits but would like an estimate of the amount of benefits you’d receive, you can use the retirement benefits calculator.

3. Retirement Abroad

You have the right to collect Social Security benefits even if you live in another country. But if you are receiving retirement payments from another country that isn’t the United States, Social Security may reduce those benefits.

There are certain regulations for U.S. citizens and residents, and for those living in countries such as Cuba, North Korea and others. You can find more information about your payments while living outside the United States.

Use this tool to see if you can continue receiving your Social Security Payments abroad.

Applying for retirement benefits and other information

You can apply for retirement benefits online or at a Social Security office near you.

If you’d like to receive more information, get in touch with Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778 (TTY, for people with hearing disabilities).

Read this note in Spanish.

What are all of the questions asked when you apply for SOCIAL SECURITY RETIREMENT ?

Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.

The Social Security Administration lists all of the information and documents you need to apply for retirement benefits on their website.

You can apply for retirement benefits or Medicare online or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can also visit your local Social Security office. Call ahead to make an appointment.

If you do not live in the U.S. or one of its territories, you can also contact your nearest U.S. Social Security office, U.S. Embassy or consulate.