Most Americans believe the Social Security program will run out of money.1

3 in 4 adults age 18 and older worry the program will run out of money in their lifetimes. Yet as long as there are workers, money is flowing into the Social Security Trust Fund and will be paid out to beneficiaries.

About a third of Americans don’t have a clear sense of how much they will get in Social Security income.1

The Social Security Administration provides a free and secure my Social Security online account, which can produce up-to-date statements of a projected benefit.

More than a third of Americans don’t know the age at which they’ll receive full benefits.1

The age at which a worker is eligible to receive full benefits is their full retirement age (FRA). For individuals born in 1960 or later, their FRA is 67.

Choosing to delay filing leads to increased monthly benefits.

In fact, monthly benefits could increase by as much as 80%. The earliest a worker can file for benefits is age 62 — at a reduced primary insurance amount (PIA). But delaying until as long as age 70 increases monthly benefits. There aren't any added gains by delaying benefits past age 70.2


Social Security trustees project inflation adjustments averaging 2.4% per year through 2097.3

Benefits provide inflation protection before and throughout retirement.

Since 1975, the Social Security Administration has provided an automatic annual cost-of-living allowance tied to the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The adjustment applies to both those who are currently receiving benefits and for workers who have not yet filed. In rare cases in which deflation occurs, benefits remain level.

1 in 2 Americans believe that if they claim benefits early, their benefits will go up when they reach FRA.1

That’s not true. The amount when benefits are claimed, plus any subsequent cost-of-living increases, is the amount that will be received over a worker’s lifetime. That’s why the timing of a filing decision is so important.

It’s possible to work while receiving benefits.

However, a worker's age in relation to their designated full retirement age (FRA) matters. Those working prior to achieving their FRA won't receive the full amount of annual Social Security benefits, so it's important to understand the impacts and options of a phased retirement.

You can fix a filing mistake, if you act quickly.

You could withdraw your application within 12 months of first claiming benefits as long as you repay all benefits received. Doing so could increase your benefit amount later.

If one spouse passes away, Social Security income could drop by as much as half.

However, if both spouses were receiving benefits, the surviving spouse can continue receiving the greater of the two benefit amounts.

Social Security benefits rarely provide enough income to live on.

In fact, these benefits represent only about a third of past earnings.4 For many workers, the question is “How will I fill the gap between my projected Social Security benefit and the income I will need in retirement?"

Download list

light bulb icon
Consider this
Workers age 55 and older should consider consulting with a financial professional to uncover a personalized filing strategy.
[1] “The 2023 Nationwide Retirement Institute® Social Security Survey,” conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Nationwide Retirement Institute. This online survey was conducted May 18 – June 13, 2023, among 1,806 U.S. adults age 18 or older.
[2] “Your Social Security Statement,” Social Security Form SSA-7005-SM-OL (January 2024).
[3] "The 2023 OASDI Trustees Report," Social Security Administration (2023).
[4] “Replacement Rates for Hypothetical Retired Workers,” Social Security Administration (March 2023).

Related topics & resources

Older couple walking through forest together

Nationwide CareMatters®

This single-life coverage is for clients who are primarily looking for long-term care coverage and want to be able to recover their costs if they never need care.