Make These 3 Moves Now for Larger Social Security Checks Later

There’s a good chance Social Security will end up becoming an important income source for you once you retire, so it pays to snag as large a benefit as you can. These key moves could set you up with more money during your senior years.

1. Fight for higher wages

The monthly Social Security benefit you’ll be entitled to during retirement will be based on your wage history — specifically, your average monthly wage, indexed for inflation, during your 35 most profitable years in the labor force. The more money you earn, the higher your future benefit stands to be.

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Generally, negotiating higher pay isn’t an easy thing to do. But right now, it might be. Many companies are grappling with labor shortages, with workers resigning left and right. So these days, employees have more bargaining power than usual, which you can use to your advantage.

That said, it definitely pays to research wages for your role and industry and see how much of a boost you should ask for. If the typical worker with your job description and experience level earns between $80,000 and $90,000 a year, and you’re currently being paid a salary of $75,000, you can put that data in front of your boss and ask for a $5,000 to $15,000 bump. But if you go in asking for $110,000, you may be laughed out of the room.

2. Boost your income with a side hustle

The earnings that are taken into account when calculating your monthly Social Security benefit can stem from any source, whether it’s a full-time or a part-time one. As such, if you’re willing to put in the time and take on a second job on top of your main one, you can boost your income and set yourself up for a higher Social Security benefit down the line.

All you need to do to make sure your side-gig earnings are counted for Social Security purposes is report that income to the IRS. And hey — that’s something you’re required to do, anyway.

3. Review your annual earnings statements

Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issues workers an earnings statement. Yours will contain a summary of your wages, as well as an estimate of your future Social Security benefit. And the closer to retirement you are, the more spot-on that estimate will be.

It’s important to review your earnings statements every year to make sure they don’t contain errors — like missing or underreported wages — as that could result in a lower Social Security benefit later on. If you’re 60 or older, you’ll get your annual earnings statement by mail. Otherwise, it’s easy to create an account on the SSA’s website and access your statements there.

The moves you make in the near term could set the stage for financial security in the long term. Be sure to tackle these key items if you want to score yourself a more robust Social Security benefit — and minimize your financial worries during retirement.

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