The conversation surrounding social security has been quite divided in the past few years. Some still feel hopeful about their retirement future and social security benefits, whereas others feel uncertain about how much their benefits will hold.
If you will be applying for social security in Texas, however, you’re in luck. Because Texas has an extensive social security benefits system consisting of various programs for multiple purposes to safeguard your retirement.
The Outlook on Social Security
As we know, social security is designed to provide a basic monthly income for workers and their families after they exit the workforce, either due to old age or disabilities. Currently, the program provides benefits to over 50 million people.
For years, governors have discussed the sustainability of social security. How to ensure that the current dedicated tax revenue is sufficient to finance all current benefits? And how to ensure the current taxation and benefit levels remain viable for the future?
As these questions are being addressed, it is important to stay aware of any changes in the social security benefits in your region. Meanwhile, educate yourself with the current system, qualifications, and complimentary benefit programs in your State so you receive the maximum benefit possible.
Do You Qualify for Social Security Benefits in Texas?
You should always start with checking your overall qualification for social security benefits if you’re in Texas. While 96% of general works are covered under Social Security, your actual earning from Social Security varies depending on your age and earnings. Therefore, it is critical that you properly plan your retirement.
So, how do you qualify for social security benefits?
The Social Security taxes you paid when working turn into “credits” for social security benefits. If you’re born in 1929 or later, you need at least 40 credits to qualify for retirement benefits. Additionally, there are many alternative programs you can apply for on top of the standard social security benefits in Texas.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. allows qualified individuals to receive additional social security benefits in Texas. This federal program benefits any U.S. citizen who lives in the U.S. who
- Is 65 years or older
- Is Blind or disabled
- Has limited income
- Has limited resources
In 2018, the maximum SSI payment each month was $750 for any qualified individual or $1,125 for a married couple if both spouses qualify.
Essentially, SSI makes its decision based on “countable income,” which summarizes both your work and non-work income. Meanwhile, your total resource cannot exceed $2,000 as a single individual or $3,000 as a couple.
However, even if you don’t qualify for SSI, you may still benefit from other social security programs, specifically, Medicare Savings Programs explained later in this article. You also have the right to appeal if you disagree with the SSI office’s decision.
Social Security Disability (SSDI) is another program that has benefited the retirement population in Texas. It refers to your work history and you must have a severe physical or mental condition that lasts more than 12 months. Additionally, if you qualify for the program, then there’s a chance that you also qualify for SSDI benefits.
The final SSDI payout is determined by the severity of your condition or your ability to work. Most recipients get $800 and $1,800 per month with the average payout of 2021 being $1,277.
Spousal benefits are uniquely designed for those who have divorced from a marriage that lasted 10 years or longer. It allows you to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record even if they have remarried. To qualify,
- You must be unmarried and 62 or older
- Your ex-spouse needs to qualify for Social Security retirement or disability benefits
- And, your benefits (based on your own work) must be less than that what you’d receive based on your ex-spouse’s work
Survivor benefits help the living spouse or children if the deceased had enough work history quarters at the time of death. Qualified individuals include
- A surviving spouse who’s 60 or older, or a disabled spouse 50 or older
- A divorced spouse who’s 60 or older and the marriage lasted more than 10 years
- A surviving spouse under 60 caring for a child under 16, or an adult child disabled before 22
- A child under 18 with full-time school enrollment, or disability
- An adult child disabled before 22.
You can apply for SSDI, along with spousal and survivor’s benefits easily via the Texas government’s online portal.
Beyond Social Security: Retirement and Benefits for Former State Employees
In addition to the programs mentioned above, there are special programs designed for public servants, including teachers and State employees. These savings programs are independent of social security benefits and often increase the sense of security after retirement.
State of Texas Retirement for Former Employees
The State of Texas Retirement plan is mandatory for most state agency employees. It is a defined benefit retirement plan that pays a monthly annuity for life with optional survivor’s benefits.
Texa$aver 401(k) / 457 Program
If you were hired on September 1, 2008, or after, you automatically contribute 1% of your salary to the Taxa$aver account. You can keep your money in the Texa$aver program for as long as you want even after you leave state employment. The program also comes with advisory services to help you make wise investments.
Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and Optional Retirement Program (ORP) Annuity
TRS and ORP programs provide additional benefits for educators of a higher education institution. If you participate in these programs, you may also qualify for the Texas Group Benefits Program (GBP) benefits, which include health insurance for those who are eligible.
Receiving the Benefits You Deserve
Getting your retirement in order and applying for social security in Texas can be stressful and confusing. While the online application process is easy enough, it’s often the follow-up process and the long-term maintenance of these benefits that pose additional challenges to a retiree’s life.
If you are interested in speaking with an advisor that can help you with your retirement planning, reach out to BentOak Capital. We are a Texas-based firm that is uniquely positioned to be able to help you get the most out of your retirement.