Most People Fail This Social Security Quiz. Can You Pass?


Pop quiz: True or False – Social Security retirement benefits are subject to income tax just like withdrawals from a traditional IRA account.

If you answered “False,” you’re smarter than more than 60% of your fellow Americans nearing retirement. In fact, if you know just about anything about how Social Security works, you’re very likely smarter than almost 70% of people close to retirement age when it comes to understanding one of your most important sources of retirement income.

Those are the findings from the 2023 Social Security retirement benefits quiz of near-retirees from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. Of the 1,500 people between age 55 and age 65 who took the quiz, 69% failed or barely managed to pass the 13-question survey (posted in full below). And a mere 1% managed to correctly answer all the questions.

For hands-on help understanding Social Security, consider matching for free with a vetted financial advisor.

Even more worrisome is the fact that more people failed the quiz this year than last year, with one-third (35%) getting six or more questions wrong vs. 29% last year.

“One of the most concerning findings was that 43% of near-retirees do not know what percentage of their income in retirement will be coming from Social Security benefits,” said Paul LaPiana, CFP, head of product with MassMutual. “Knowing your total retirement income and where it will come from is part of the foundation of retirement planning.”

If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

How do you stack up? Try the True or False quiz and see for yourself – and you’ve even got a head start on No. 12. (Social Security benefits aren’t subject to any income tax until you make over a certain limit of income, which is $25,000 for single filers, and $32,000 for joint tax filers.)

2023 MassMutual Social Security Retirement Benefits Quiz

  1. In most cases, if I take benefits before my full retirement age, they will be reduced for early filing.

  2. If I am receiving benefits before my full retirement age and continue to work, my benefits might be reduced based on how much I make.

  3. If I have a spouse, he or she can receive benefits from my record even if he or she has no individual earnings history.

  4. Generally, if I am in a same-sex marriage, there are different eligibility requirements when it comes to Social Security retirement benefits.

  5. If I have a spouse and he or she passes away, I will receive both my full benefit and my deceased spouse’s full benefit.

  6. The money that comes out of my paycheck for Social Security goes into a specific account for me and remains there, earning interest, until I begin to receive Social Security benefits.

  7. If I file for retirement benefits and have dependent children aged 18 or younger, they also may qualify for Social Security benefits.

  8. If I get divorced, I might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouse’s Social Security earnings history.

  9. Under current law, Social Security benefits could be reduced by 20% or more for everyone by 2035.

  10. Under current Social Security law, full retirement age is 65 no matter when you were born.

  11. If I delay taking Social Security benefits past the age of 70, I will continue to get delayed retirement credit increases each year I wait.

  12. Social Security retirement benefits are subject to income tax just like withdrawals from a traditional IRA account.

  13. I must be a U.S. citizen to collect Social Security retirement benefits.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. true; 4. false; 5. false; 6. false; 7. true; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false; 11. false; 12. false; 13. false.

Grades: 0-1 wrong A; 2 wrong B; 3 wrong C; 4-5 wrong D; 6 or more wrong F.

Bottom line


Social Security is more complicated than simply waiting until full retirement age to claim a check. The question of when to claim benefits, how to claim them and how to incorporate Social Security into your overall retirement plan can be complicated. There are, in fact, 81 separate ways for a married couple to claim benefits. One way to start figuring it all out is to check SmartAsset’s Social Security Calculator. It can also be beneficial to match for free with a vetted financial advisor.

Tips For Managing Your Retirement Plans

  • How much money will you need to save to be able to retire? Should you delay Social Security? These are just a couple questions that pre-retirees face. A financial advisor can help you answer them. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • Fidelity recommends that you have 10 times your annual income saved for retirement by age 67. To find out if you’re on track, try SmartAsset’s retirement calculator. This free tool will estimate how much you’ll have when the time comes to retire.

  • Keep an emergency fund on hand in case you run into unexpected expenses. An emergency fund should be liquid — in an account that isn’t at risk of significant fluctuation like the stock market. The tradeoff is that the value of liquid cash can be eroded by inflation. But a high-interest account allows you to earn compound interest. Compare savings accounts from these banks.

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The post Can You Pass This Social Security Quiz? Nearly 7 in 10 People Struggle With These Basic Questions appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

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