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Social Security Q&A

Life Expectancy Calculator at Social Security Can Help Retirement Planning

Social Security provides some information on Medicare Open Enrollment that begins this wee

Social Security Q&A logoOct. 12, 2014 – Did you know that Social Security provides a Life Expectancy Calculator on their website? It can come in pretty handy for planning your retirement and Social Security strategy. It is just one of the top answers in this week’s Social Security Q&A. Another big one is about Medicare Open Enrollment that begins this week and the opportunity for Extra Help.


My wife and I are doing some retirement planning. We are both healthy and have relatives that have lived well into their nineties. As a result, we are both planning to delay our Social Security benefits as long as possible. We are undecided whether to apply at age 66 or wait until age 70.  How can we get our respective benefit estimates at full retirement age? 


The Social Security website has just the resources you are looking for.

When you are considering when to collect retirement benefits, one important factor to take into account is how long you might live. According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration, a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84.3. 

In addition, a woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.6.  Those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95. 

Do you want to know your life expectancy?  You can use our simple Life Expectancy Calculator to get a rough estimate of how long you (or your spouse) may live. Knowing this information can help you make a more informed choice regarding when to collect Social Security retirement benefits. 

After you use our Life Expectancy Calculator, please go to our Retirement Estimator to get estimates of your future benefits.

You can also create your own “my Social Security” account to get a more detailed benefit estimate.


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I am waiting for the Medicare open enrollment period to arrive so I can look into a Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) plan.  When will that occur?


The Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. October is the perfect time to talk about Medicare prescriptions and the Extra Help available from Social Security.

Newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries and current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare Part D plan, should act now. The Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the costs of medications. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the prescription drug coverage.

About Extra Help

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, some people with limited income and resources may be eligible for Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.

Many Medicare beneficiaries qualify for these big savings and do not even know it. To figure out whether you are eligible for the Extra Help, Social Security needs to know your income and the value of any savings, investments, and real estate (other than the home you live in).

To qualify, you must be receiving Medicare and have income limited to $17,235 for an individual or $23,265 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Resources limited to $13,440 for an individual or $26,860 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. We do not count your house or car as resources.

You can complete an easy-to-use online application or get more information by visiting To apply for the Extra Help by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. While we are on the subject of open seasons, the open enrollment period for qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act is November 15 to February 15. Learn more about it at


Can I change the date I receive my benefits?


No. If you were receiving or applied for Social Security benefits on or before April 30, 1997, or if you receive both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you receive your benefit on the third of the month.

If you receive only SSI, you get your benefit on the first of the month. If you applied for Social Security benefits after April 30, 1997, the birthday of the person on whose record you receive benefits determines your payment date.

You can see the Schedule of Social Security Payments for 2014 by visiting our website at  The document shows the payment dates for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries for this year.


What is the special rule about earnings in the first year of retirement?


Sometimes people younger than full retirement age retire in the middle of the year and have already earned more than the yearly earnings limit. There is a special rule that applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you can get a full Social Security benefit for any whole month you are retired, regardless of your yearly earnings.

You can find out more on this subject by visiting our website . When you are ready to apply for retirement benefits, use our online retirement application, the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to apply.

>> Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at

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