Personal Finance

Take this Social Security quiz and see if you are smarter than the average American

Key Points
  • More than half of Americans could not pass a basic Social Security quiz posed by MassMutual.
  • Most were able to correctly answer that their benefits would be reduced for claiming early. Answers to other questions, particularly one on whether non-citizens are eligible, eluded respondents.
  • Take the test to find out how you score.

In this article

Jim McGuire | Getty Images

If you're like many Americans, you won't get this quiz question about Social Security right: "I must be a U.S. citizen to collect Social Security retirement benefits." 

Insurance company MassMutual recently posed 12 true/false questions like this one about the federal program to 1,500 Americans via an online poll. The question on citizenship and eligibility drew drew the most incorrect responses. The correct answer is "false."

More than half of the respondents — 52% — either failed or barely passed the quiz. Of those respondents, 33% failed and 19% got a D.

The one question that most individuals were able to answer correctly was whether their benefits would be reduced if they started collecting early, before their full retirement age.

"We're getting the message out that there are choices, and people have to really understand what the future would hold for them relative to Social Security planning," said David Freitag, a financial planning consultant at MassMutual. "The bad news is that we still have a lot more to do."

These are the true/false questions MassMutual posed to respondents. How many answers can you get right?

True or False?

  1. 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. Once I start collecting Social Security, my benefits will never change.
  4. 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.
  5. If I have a spouse, he or she can receive benefits from my record even if he or she has no individual earnings history.
  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. Under current Social Security law, full retirement age is 65 no matter when you were born.
  8. As a divorced person, I might be able to collect Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouse's earnings history.
  9. Under current law, Social Security benefits could be reduced for everyone in 2035.
  10. If I file for retirement benefits and have dependent children age 18 or younger, they also may qualify for Social Security benefits.
  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. I must be a U.S. citizen to collect Social Security retirement benefits.
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  1. True
  2. True
  3. False
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