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The One Number You Need To Know Before Claiming Social Security
Of all the things you must know about Social Security, this is perhaps the most important.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Social Security. How are benefits calculated? (There’s a specific formula, but it’s complicated.) Will benefits be cut in the future? (It’s possible, though some lawmakers will work tirelessly to avoid having that happen.)
But one thing that should be pretty clear with regard to Social Security is when you’re allowed to collect your benefits in full. Yet most people don’t know when they’re entitled to their full monthly benefit, reports Nationwide, and that lack of knowledge could lead to a host of bad decisions.
You must know your full retirement age
If there’s one thing you really need to know about Social Security before signing up for benefits, it’s your full retirement age, or FRA, which is when you can collect your monthly benefit in full. FRA is not the same for everyone. Rather, it depends on your year of birth, as per this table:
Data Source: Social Security Administration
Nationwide reports that 97% of millennials, 90% of Gen Xers, and 80% of baby boomers could not correctly identify their full retirement age, so if there’s one number you must commit to memory prior to claiming benefits, it’s that.
What happens if you claim benefits outside of FRA? Well, it depends when you file. You’re eligible to first sign up for Social Security at age 62, but for each month you claim benefits ahead of FRA, they automatically get reduced on what’s generally a permanent basis. Of course, the closer you are to FRA, the less of a hit your benefits will take, but if you’re entering retirement with little in the way of savings, filing early is something you may want to avoid — and knowing your FRA will help you do just that.
Incidentally, you’re also allowed to delay your Social Security filing past FRA and claim benefits at a later age. For each year you hold off beyond that point, your benefits get an 8% boost, up until age 70. That means you have an opportunity to increase your monthly Social Security income by up to 32%, assuming you have an FRA of 66. With an FRA of 67, the maximum boost you can get is 24%.
Get schooled before claiming your benefits
Of course, your full retirement age is only one of many things you should know about Social Security before signing up. You should also, for example, know what your estimated monthly benefit based on your wage history look like. You can get that information on your annual earnings statement, which you’ll receive in the mail if you’re 60 or older or can otherwise access on the Social Security Administration’s website. But if you don’t know the age at which you’re entitled to that benefit in full, you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice — one you may end up sorely regretting if it creates a scenario where you’re overwhelmingly cash-strapped for the bulk of your retirement.
For months, as COVID-19 ravaged the plans and schedules of other sports leagues around the world, the NFL insisted it would be able to start its 2020 season on time. And the billionaire team owners who run this operation are not blinking even as football amid a pandemic reveals itself as impossible at the sport’s lower levels.
Thus, the 2020 NFL season is still scheduled to start Sept. 10 with what has become a traditional Thursday night opener. That is, of course, unless a coronavirus outbreak wrecks the NFL’s so-far uninterrupted plans for the regular season.
The NFL Players Association needed to put up a fight, but the NFL eventually agreed to cancel the 2020 pre-season in the name of player health and safety. That allowed the league to implement a lengthy acclimation period for teams’ training camps so players could reach conditioning goals prior to full-contact practices.
These schedule tweaks mean Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season will be an unprecedented situation for all involved. It will mark the first live NFL game action since the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl 54 about a month before the pandemic shut down sports globally.
So as if Week 1 of a given NFL season wasn’t enough of a crap shoot in terms of what to expect, the start of the 2020 season will be a complete cluster. Really, all we know about Week 1 is that it remains scheduled to start on time with a full slate of 16 games.
Below is all you need to know about the start of the 2020 NFL season, including the COVID-19 line the league is walking into September.
When does the NFL season start in 2020?
Date: Thursday, Sept. 10
Game: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff time: 8:20 p.m. ET
After a year of deviation, the NFL is back to its tradition of scheduling the defending Super Bowl champion as the host of the league’s Thursday night season-opener. The Chiefs’ title defense begins against the Texans, one of the teams Kansas City beat in comeback fashion during last year’s AFC playoffs.
There had been rumors that the NFL was considering moving the season-opener to one of its new stadiums in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, especially after it began last season with a classic Packers-Bears matchup in Green Bay to kick off the league’s 100th season. Kansas City, though, remained the play.
The 2020 NFL season-opener will broadcast live Thursday, Sept. 10 on NBC featuring the network’s “Sunday Night Football” crew of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.
NFL schedule Week 1
Per tradition, Week 1 of the NFL season will begin with a Thursday night opener featuring the defending Super Bowl champs and will end with a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.
Nestled between those primetime games and serving as the night cap of the first full Sunday of NFL football in 2020 might be the most intriguing game of the weekend. Cowboys at Rams on “Sunday Night Football” is juicy enough on its own, but it doubles as the national TV debut of LA’s SoFi Stadium. (The whole limited-if-any-fans thing is a bit of a bummer.)
Below is the complete Week 1 schedule for the start of the 2020 NFL season.
Thursday, Sept. 10
Sunday, Sept. 13
Monday, Sept. 14
COVID-19 and the start of the NFL season
As of Aug. 5, the NFLPA had reported 56 positive COVID-19 test results league-wide since players reported to training camps in late July. Which was pretty much what the NFL anticipated.
Because the NFL is not implementing a bubble concept like those the NBA and the NHL are using so successfully, the league knows coronavirus cases are all but inevitable. So it’s important for the NFL to avoid the issues Major League Baseball has had, postponing or canceling games because of outbreaks within teams. That will be easier said than done.
Basically, the NFL is operating on the honor system, trusting a couple thousand players and all other team/league personnel to adhere to health and safety guidelines implemented by their local governments. All 32 teams had infections disease emergency response plans for their facilities approved by both the NFL and the NFLPA, but players are still free to live their lives outside of team headquarters.
Based on the terms of the modified collective bargaining agreement the league and the players agreed upon last month, players can be fined for attending potentially hazardous settings like clubs, bars, parties, concerts and even church services. And if they test positive for COVID-19 after doing so, they won’t get paid for whatever games they miss.
Still, with 53-man team rosters during the season and expanded practice squad rosters — and even bigger numbers during training camps — the sheer number of people involved makes the NFL season a risky endeavor.
Which is why testing is key. The league agreed to test players every day for the first two weeks of training camp. It will evaluate its frequency of COVID-19 testing moving forward and into the season depending on the percentage of positives.
According to NBC Sports, when a player tests positive, he falls into one of two categories:
1.“If he has symptoms of COVID-19, at least 10 days must pass since the first symptoms occurred and at least 72 hours have passed since symptoms last occurred. He must test negative and have his return approved by a team doctor in consultation with league medical officials.”
2. “If he is asymptomatic, 10 days must have passed since his positive test — or five days have passed since the positive test, plus two tests that show negative results, for him to resume playing.”
Players who test positive are placed on a new reserve list called “Reserve/COVID-19.” However, players can be placed on the list even if they have not tested positive. The list also includes players who have come in close contact with somebody who did test positive.
The NFL also is implementing contact tracing so it can monitor the interactions of those who test positive.
HOW TO ENJOY LABOR DAY WEEKEND
WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING
While Social Distancing
While pool parties, barbecues, and family picnics have traditionally been popular ways to gather over the Labor Day weekend, things are going to be different this year because of social distancing guidelines. “Labor Day won’t look exactly how it used to,” says professional event planner Lisa Cokinos of LC Events. “But some activities are still easy to pull off as long as you follow safety protocols.” We asked Cokinos and event planner Elle Anderson, founder of elleaevents for their ideas, and here’s what they had to share.
Whether you play a classic board game with family members or an adult drinking game with lifelong friends, Anderson says videoconferencing platforms are a great way to safely celebrate Labor Day online with loved ones both near and afar. “Plan an art project that everyone can do in real time on a Zoom call or a host a virtual game night,” she says. “Try to think of activities you loved doing before social distancing, and see if they can be recreated through a group video call.”
Take a trip to the beach.
If you’re lucky enough to have a beach or lake in your area, Cokinos says there are still ways to safely spend a day at the beach. “Make sure everyone in your party has a mask to wear to and from the car, as well as while walking on the beach or lakefront to a designated spot,” she says. “Mark off an area for your own family specifically with beach chairs, towels and umbrellas, and pack plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes for trips to the restroom.”
Throw a backyard barbecue.
While traditional block parties are out of the question when social distancing, Anderson says you can still throw a small outdoor soiree with close friends and family at your home on Labor Day. “If you have a barbecue, you can grill outdoors and ask guests to remain six feet or more apart,” she says. “You can also set off some small fireworks to make it feel like a true summer holiday.”
Host a virtual movie night.
No Labor Day weekend would be complete without a good film viewing, which is why Anderson suggests planning some kind of movie night for family and friends. “You can host a virtual movie night on Zoom or Houseparty, and have everyone rent the same movie,” she says. “Or, set up an inflatable screen in your backyard for a private outdoor showing.”
Whatever you do, be cautious.
Whether you decide to spend the weekend grilling with a small group of friends or at a crowded beach, Anderson says safety is the most important thing to remember when planning Labor Day activities. “It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re having fun, especially when alcohol is involved,” she says. “No matter what you do, make sure everyone involved has access to masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes so they can stay safe while having a good time celebrating.”
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush all over cut sides of hot dog buns. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add buns, cut side down. (You may have to do this in batches.) Let toast until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
When buns are toasted, remove from pan and add remaining butter. Reduce heat to low. When butter has melted add lobster and cook, stirring constantly to coat lobster with butter. Remove when lobster is completely coated in butter and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill toasted buns with lobster and garnish with chives. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.