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Tough Questions: Mixed Results from Our ‘Social Security IQ Quiz’

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Take the 2020 Social Security IQ Test!   New questions and updated for 2020!

May 2, 2018 — Even though the average scores were quite low on last week’s Social Security IQ Quiz, there is still plenty of good news. Best of all, we are happy that so many people, over 2,000 and climbing, took the time to take it last week. It wasn’t easy, particularly with its occasionally tricky multiple choice options. But after having taken it, gotten a score, read the answers, and understanding why they were correct – a lot of people now have a better understanding of this critical retirement benefit. Hurrah!

In this article we are going to cover the highlights of the quiz and how our test takers did on it. We won’t go into the nuts and bolts of every answer, because we already provided all the correct answers and explanations at Your Social Security Quiz Results.

Overall scores
The average score on the quiz was 50%. Of the 2046 taking it as of April 30, only 22 got a perfect score, the same number that only missed 1 question. Congratulations to those folks on their excellent Social Security knowledge. Passing score was 60%, so by that standard most people did not pass. But we want to stress that what really counts is what you know AFTER you take test and study the answers!

Tough questions
The questions had 3 or 4 choices, so the probability of guessing each right answer was 33% at best. Some answers were a bit tricky because we wanted folks to understand a few key concepts. Two questions were harder than the others, since more people answered them incorrectly than correctly. Those were:

Q. 3. How does the Social Security Administration calculate your benefit?
The correct answer was “Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most”. However, slightly more people chose an incorrect answer (20 years). The point of the question was, you have a lot of working years to try to maximize your benefit.

Q. 12: Which ONE of these statements about filing strategies is TRUE?
More people (736 vs. 639) selected “None of the above” than the correct answer, “People born before Jan. 2, 1954 can take a Restricted Benefit (spouse can collect spousal benefit but can wait to claim own benefit)”. We chose this question because there is much confusion over “Restricted Benefit” and “File and Suspend” (and who is eligible for each). While File and Suspend is no longer available, some folks can still take advantage of the Restricted Benefit option.

One other question that people had a lot of trouble with was the one that asked how much of a spousal benefit you can get. Although 46% answered correctly, you can get 50% if you are Full Retirement Age, an alarming 44% thought that you could get 50% at age 62. That could be a costly if taken early with the mistaken thought you get 50%.

Questions almost everybody got
There were 4 questions that almost everyone answered correctly. They were important questions, so it’s great that people already were up to speed on those:
Q. 1. Full Retirement Age for people born before 1955.
Some 67% knew the correct answer, 66 years of age.

Q. 7. Working after taking SS. The correct answer was “Once you start social taking security your benefits will not be reduced if you work for pay, as long as you have reached your full retirement age.” Almost everyone has good command of this one – 72% got it right.

Q. 11. Divorce and SS.. This was the question with the highest percentage getting it right. Some 76% knew the correct answer to “Assume that you are divorced from someone who qualifies for social security benefits. You are at least 62, and have not remarried. Can you collect benefits as a divorced spouse on the record of your former spouse?” The correct answer was: “Yes, as long as you have were married to that person for at least 10 years”.

Q. 13. Future of Social Security.. The question was “Which was the only true statement from the latest Social Security Trustee Report about the financial health of Social Security”, and the correct answer was: “In 2035 only 75% of promised retirement benefits will be available to be paid.” 59% of you got that one right.

Bottom line
Thanks to all for taking the quiz. Hopefully you now know (if you didn’t already) the key things you need to understand about Social Security, a critical resource for your retirement. If you haven’t already read our article with the answers and explanations to each question, we strongly urge you to spend a few minutes reviewing it.

Comments? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Take Our Social Security IQ Quiz
Correct Answers to the SS Quiz
What You Don’t Know About Social Security Could Hurt You

Posted by Admin on May 1st, 2018


  1. RE: Answer for Full retirement age for those born before 1955.

    I was born in 1954 and my full retirement age is 66. The question about those born before 1955 needs to be rephrased. It is 67 for those born in 1959–not 1955. I checked the SSA website this very morning.

    by Jennifer — May 2, 2018

  2. Jennifer, you are correct, FRA is 66 for those born before 1955. We slipped up and typed in the wrong answer here (now corrected here, it was OK in the complete answers post). Here is a chart of the Full Retirement Age for various ages. Full Retirement Age chart and

    by Admin — May 2, 2018

  3. I felt bad I got a 77%….I feel better now…lol

    by Mary11 — May 2, 2018

  4. Greetings…I don’t know if anyone can advise me? I’m a widow of three weeks, currently abroad until June. I had to bury my husband here. No family member has come to help me, and we had no children. My husband had no pension, or life insurance, only social security. I don’t know where to turn. We’d just moved to Lexington,ky………any suggestions, please?

    Thank you.

    by Joyce — May 3, 2018

  5. Joyce,
    If you are over 60 you will get a SS widow’s pension. I’m not sure if you get your DH’s full amount at that time, but at some point you will receive the higher amount either his or yours. Not both.
    I would go online to see what your next step is with SS…. you will probably need to supply his
    death certificate, but I would not wait.
    Hope this helps…and sorry for your loss.

    by Betsy — May 3, 2018

  6. Betsy: Thank you so much. I’m currently in S. America.he died here, and I don’t yet have a death certificate. Between the plot and burial costs , I can’t yet pay the funeral home charges, no family is helping, but until I can do that, no certificate!….it’s complicated. He was so well and healthy. I spent two hours this morning with his doctors, and they couldn’t believe it. They were so kind to me, and immediately called in a psychiatrist to check me out……no charge.
    I’ll follow your advice once back…..I’m dreading it, after 43 years, I’m not functioning properly yet……but I’ll get there. Thank you again. J

    by Joyce — May 4, 2018

  7. Joyce,
    Be gentle with yourself. You are undergoing a lot of stress right now. Take it one hour at a time if necessary. Hopefully something will bring clarity to the situation. More of us need to be aware that this could happen, when I lived in Cairo, Egypt, I carried insurance to repatriate the bodies of myself and my husband should either of us die suddenly. It can be expensive to ship back the body of a loved one. My ex would have been happy to have been buried in Egypt since he had family there. He was much older than I and this issue was always on the horizon. Whatever we do, tomorrow is not guaranteed and it is best to be prepared.

    by Jennifer — May 5, 2018

  8. Jennifer…..thank you so very much. Your words have calmed me a little……he was so very healthy, and we’d decided to make a new will this summer, etc…….I’m so hazy, it’s driving me mad…….I’ve always been clear headed. Thank you…..j

    by Joyce — May 5, 2018

  9. Joyce, please keep us updated on your situation. Many of us will learn from what you are experiencing. I am hoping you have someone there for emotional support as you move on from day to day.

    by Jennifer — May 6, 2018

  10. Joyce, Condolences on your loss. If you are having difficulty with the death cert, perhaps this is something the US consulate in the country you are in can help or at least provide you with some guidance.

    by jean — May 7, 2018

  11. Jean…Thank you….but I’ve been warned not to advise the embassy until I’m back in the US, or accounts will be blocked, even though joint…..also, here, it’s impossible to get a human on the phone, or even cancel appointments….I hace a techie try for me, and it’s not doable! It’s so frustrating. I’ve given up.

    by Joyce — May 8, 2018

  12. Joyce, when are you coming back to the US? Were you just visiting when this happened or were you living there? I am wondering how long it will take you to get the answers you need there or is it better to just come back home to work on it?

    by Jennifer — May 8, 2018

  13. Most of the questions were irrelevant to many. I would guess that most got the right answers to matters that specifically pertain to their own situation.

    by BE — May 9, 2018

  14. BE I agree, a more relevant quiz might be better and more informative.

    by Jennifer — May 10, 2018

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