A larger Social Security check can provide you with more financial security in retirement because these checks are guaranteed to last for life. They'll also be an important income source, although they can't be your sole source of funds.
But how can you increase the amount of money that you get from your retirement benefits?
If you're working now, there's actually steps you can take in 2022 that could lead to a larger payment from Social Security later in life. Here are four of them.
1. Invest in a Roth account
Investing in a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA instead of a traditional 401(k) or IRA can make a huge difference in your future Social Security benefits. That's because it can help you to avoid taxes on retirement income, which a growing number of seniors are subject to each year.
Social Security benefits aren't taxed by the federal government until your provisional income reaches $25,000 as a single tax filer or $32,000 as a married filer. After you've hit this threshold, up to 50% of benefits are taxed. And if your income exceeds $34,000 as a single filer or $44,000 as a married joint filer, up to 85% of benefits will be taxed. Provisional income is half your Social Security, some nontaxable income, and all taxable income.
Since Roth distributions aren't taxed, investing in a Roth means you likely won't end up losing any part of Social Security to the federal government if you've made these accounts the centerpiece of your retirement savings plan. You'll have a lot more money to spend from Social Security as a result.
2. Negotiate your salary
Social Security benefits are based on average income over your career. So if you increase your average income, your benefits will go up. Unfortunately, many people miss out on the best chance to do that because they don't advocate for themselves when getting a new job or during annual performance reviews.
Studies have suggested a failure to negotiate your salary could cost you as much as $600,000 in lost income over your career. Unfortunately, this won't just affect your current living standard; it will also leave you with a much reduced Social Security check.
The more years you receive smaller earnings because you didn't ask for what you were worth, the bigger the impact on your Social Security benefits. So, make 2022 the year you start advocating for yourself at work.
3. Look for a better-paying job
A great resignation is occurring, with millions of people quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities.
If you want to increase your Social Security benefits, you may want to consider joining them in 2022. If you explore new opportunities, you may be able to boost your earnings and thus raise the income used to determine the average wage that your Social Security benefits are based on.
4. Consider a side gig
Any income you pay Social Security taxes on counts toward the average wage that sets your benefits. So you also have the option to increase your earnings by taking on a second job. Even working a few extra hours a month could give you an annual salary boost that makes a noticeable difference in your future benefits.
The bottom line is, the more you can increase your income in 2022 — up to the maximum taxable amount — the more you can increase your future benefits. If you raise your earnings and lower your future taxes by investing in Roth instead of traditional accounts that come with taxable withdrawals, your future Social Security checks will be a lot bigger.
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