Many seniors end up relying heavily on Social Security during retirement. But the amount of money recipients get from the program can vary tremendously.
The average monthly Social Security benefit today is $1,663. But some seniors may be in line for a much higher payday. In fact, the maximum monthly Social Security benefit today is $4,194. And that may be a number you’re aiming for.
I, on the other hand, don’t really care about scoring the maximum monthly $4,194 benefit. Here’s why.
I’m focusing more on my nest egg
Social Security is facing its share of financial woes that could result in benefit cuts down the line. To be clear, those cuts aren’t guaranteed. But they’re a possibility everyone should prepare for.
As such, I’m not really banking on a specific number from Social Security because even if I do everything I can to snag the highest possible benefit, I might still end up disappointed in the sum I receive. Instead, I’m making an effort to build a nest egg of my own and use my savings as my primary source of retirement income.
Because I’m self-employed, I’m able to contribute to a solo 401(k). These plans come with much higher annual funding limits than traditional 401(k) plans. That gives me a lot of opportunity to set money aside for retirement.
I’m also making a point to invest my savings aggressively by loading up on stocks. Though stocks can be volatile (and have been extremely volatile this year), I know they’re my best bet for turning my annual contributions into a larger sum over time.
In addition to my solo 401(k) contributions, I also have a traditional brokerage account I’m investing in for retirement purposes. While I make a point to max out my 401(k) first, excess money goes in there to pad my total retirement savings.
All told, when it comes to retirement planning, I prefer to focus on the things I can control. Granted, I can’t control how the stock market performs, but I can push myself to earn more and live frugally to free up money for my nest egg.
But scoring the maximum Social Security benefit may be outside my control — especially if the maximum number drops significantly due to widespread benefit cuts. Furthermore, to snag the maximum Social Security benefit, you need to delay your filing until the age of 70. That’s something I hope to be able to do — but who knows?
That’s why my plan is to hope for the best when it comes to Social Security, but not bank on my benefits too heavily. Taking that approach actually gives me the most peace of mind.
Should you chase the maximum Social Security benefit?
The maximum Social Security benefit is really hard to snag. To get it, you have to be a very high earner for many years and delay your claim until age 70, which not everyone is able to do.
Rather than worry about snagging the maximum benefit, do your best to simply get as much money from Social Security as you can. At the same time, though, take steps to boost your savings so that if Social Security cuts come down the pike, your retirement plans won’t go bust.
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