This 30-Second Task Could Score You a Higher Social Security Benefit

There’s a good chance Social Security will end up coming in very handy during your retirement. Even if you bring a decent-sized nest egg into your senior years, you might still rely on those benefits to cover your various expenses and pursue hobbies and leisure — the things you may not have had time for while you were holding down a job.

As such, it pays to get as much money out of Social Security as you can. And one simple move could help you snag a higher monthly benefit — for life.

Look up your full retirement age

The Social Security benefit you’re entitled to each month in retirement will hinge on your wage history — specifically, the amount of money you earned during your 35 most lucrative years in the labor force. But you’re not entitled to that benefit in full until you reach full retirement age, or FRA.

Image source: Getty Images.

FRA isn’t universal. Rather, it’s based on the year you were born, and you can consult this table to see what your FRA looks like:

If Your Year of Birth Is:

Full Retirement Age Is:

1943-1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 or later

67

Data source: Social Security Administration.

You’re allowed to sign up for Social Security once you turn 62. But you should know that for each month you file for benefits ahead of your FRA, those payments will get reduced — and on a permanent basis. So if your FRA is 67 and you file for Social Security at age 64, you’ll cut your benefits by 20%, and that lower benefit will then generally remain in effect for as long as you collect Social Security.

That’s why it’s so important to learn your FRA ahead of retirement. That way, you’ll know when the time is right to claim Social Security — and you might avoid filing early accidentally and cutting your benefits in the process.

Should you file for Social Security at FRA?

You may decide that claiming benefits at your precise FRA isn’t the right move for you. If you’ve saved really well for an early retirement, for example, then you may decide to sign up for Social Security at, say, age 65 to uphold your plans.

Furthermore, you should know that for each month you delay your filing past FRA, your benefits will grow. Once you turn 70, this incentive runs out. But if your FRA is 67 and you sign up for Social Security at age 70, you’ll score a 24% boost to your benefits — one that will remain in effect for the rest of your life.

As such, you don’t have to commit to claiming your benefits at FRA on the nose. You just need to know what that age is so it can guide your filing decision. Now that you have that information mapped out for you, all you need to do is take 30 seconds to jot it down. It’s a ridiculously simple move that could make a world of difference once your retirement rolls around and it’s time to start narrowing down a filing age for Social Security purposes.

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