Get More of the Social Security You Deserve With These 3 Strategies

Social Security benefits can go a long way toward enjoying a more comfortable retirement, but it’s important to make the most of them.

Certain decisions will affect how much you receive each month, and there are ways to increase the size of your payments. In some cases, you could potentially boost your benefit amount by several hundred dollars per month. Here’s how.

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1. Work at least 35 years

The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your benefit amount using an average of your wages over the 35 years that you earned the most. It then adjusts that number for inflation, and the result is the amount you’ll receive at your full retirement age (FRA).

If you file for benefits before you’ve worked 35 full years, you’ll have zeros included in the calculation of your average wage to account for the time you weren’t working. This will reduce your earnings average and, in turn, lower your monthly benefit.

Even if you have worked a full 35 years, it sometimes pays to work a few more years anyway. Chances are you’re earning a higher salary now than you were 35 years ago. By working a few more years now, you’ll have more higher-earning years included in your average, which will result in larger payments.

2. Give your income a boost

Increasing your income can also result in higher monthly payments. As of 2022, the maximum taxable earnings limit is $147,000 per year. This is the highest income that’s subject to Social Security taxes, and the closer you can get to this limit, the more you’ll receive each month.

This doesn’t mean you have to be earning $147,000 per year. Even if you’re well below that limit, increasing your income even slightly can still boost your monthly payments. Anything you earn over $147,000 per year, however, will not further increase your benefits.

3. Consider delaying Social Security

One of the biggest factors affecting your benefit amount is the age you begin claiming. You can file for Social Security at age 62 or anytime thereafter. But the longer you wait (up to 70), the more you’ll collect each month. In some cases, this could have a dramatic effect on the size of your checks.

For example, say you have an FRA of 67, and by filing at that age, you’d receive $1,600 per month (which is roughly how much the average retiree receives from Social Security).

If you were to file at 62, your benefits would be cut by 30%, giving you $1,120 per month. On the other hand, if you wait until 70 to begin claiming, you would receive your full benefit amount plus an extra 24%, or $1,984 per month. That’s $864 more per month than you’d receive by claiming at 62.

Delaying benefits isn’t right for everyone, and there are good reasons to consider claiming early. But if you’re aiming to maximize your monthly income, you could earn substantially more by waiting a few years to file.

Making the most of your benefits

Social Security can make for a more financially secure retirement, especially if your savings are falling short. You don’t necessarily need to make all three of these moves, but the more steps you’re able to take, the more you’ll receive from Social Security.

The $18,984 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $18,984 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

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