5 things to know about social security

When it comes to something as important as Social Security, it's good to know you're getting as much of it as you can. Here are five things to remember:

Your payments will be higher if you wait until you reach retirement age.

You can start collecting Social Security contributions from age 62, but your benefits can be reduced by 20% to 30%, according to the US Social Security Agency (SSA). That's a lot, especially if you plan to have many years of retirement. You may want to consider working a little longer or relying on your retirement savings to cover living costs until you can get the full benefits.

YOU CAN WORK WHILE OBTAINING SOCIAL SECURITY.

As long as you are 62 years old, you have the possibility to benefit from social security benefits, specifies the SSA. The SSA sets annual income limits: if you receive Social Security benefits before full retirement age and earn more than the limit, your benefits will be temporarily reduced based on your income. Let's say you earn $10,000 over the limit. Your benefits would be reduced by $5,000. If you earn $20,000 over the limit, it will be reduced by $10,000.

The good news is that if your benefits are reduced, you won't lose your benefits permanently. Instead, it recalculates your payment amount so that once you reach full retirement age, you will receive the money withheld, determines the SSA. It's another way to work in retirement to increase your income over time.

YOUR PAYMENTS DO NOT START AUTOMATICALLY.

When you are ready to receive monthly benefits, you must enroll in SSA. You can apply to SSA by phone (1-800-772-1213), in person, or online.

YOUR BENEFITS CAN CONTROL.

Some Social Security holders pay taxes on their benefits, according to the SSA. It all depends on the income shown on your tax return. As an individual, if you file more than $25,000 (or $32,000 combined), the SSA requires you to pay federal tax on your benefits. State income tax rules vary from state to state.

YOUR PAYMENTS CAN HELP YOUR FAMILY.

Let's say your monthly benefits are higher than your spouse's. This is a common scenario, especially in families where a spouse has taken a career break to stay home with the children. In such cases, the SSA declares that your spouse may be entitled to an additional benefit up to half of the total amount of your pension.

After your death, your spouse will receive your monthly benefit check, whichever is greater. And if you have disabled children under the age of 19 or older parents who depend on you for at least half of their income, they could receive "survivor benefits" according to the SSA.