Claiming Social Security before full retirement age (FRA) has consequences — namely, that you’ll get stuck with a lower monthly benefit for life. That’s why some seniors expressly aim to wait until FRA to file for benefits to avoid that fate.
But what if you’re forced into early retirement? You may have every intention of working into your late 60s or early 70s, only to find yourself out of a job by age 62. At that point, you may feel you have no choice but to claim Social Security in order to pay your bills and avoid depleting your nest egg.
Actually, you may have some options for holding off on Social Security even once your job-related paycheck is yanked away ahead of schedule. Here are some worth looking at.
1. Get a part-time job
You might struggle to find a full-time job if you’re laid off at work or if health issues prevent you from working 40 hours a week or more. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on a part-time basis.
These days, the workforce is growing increasingly flexible and remote, so you may have more options for finding a job that’s easy to manage, even if you’re grappling with limited mobility. If you’re able to secure a high-enough paycheck, you might manage to get by for a while on that income alone, thereby letting your Social Security benefits grow.
2. Downsize your lifestyle
Losing your job could force you to immediately claim Social Security — unless you’re able to make major lifestyle cuts that keep your expenses to a minimum. If you’re thrust into that unwanted scenario, think about the ways you can downsize your lifestyle. You could sell a larger home and move to a smaller one, unload a car once you no longer have a job to report to, and start cooking all meals at home instead of dining out.
To be clear, you’ll still need some income to live on. But if you downgrade your lifestyle for a few years, you might manage on modest withdrawals from your 401(k) or IRA. That way, you won’t have to rush into Social Security.
3. Monetize your home
If you’re forced to retire early and have a larger home, there may be an alternative solution to downsizing it — monetizing it. You could, for example, rent out a portion of your home and use that income to pay your bills. You can also look at creatively renting out parts of your home — for example, letting someone park in your driveway for money.
Don’t assume Social Security is your only option
When you’re forced to retire ahead of schedule, it’s natural to assume that claiming Social Security is your only option. But actually, you may have a lot more choices to explore. It’s worth doing what you can to hold off on filing for benefits because waiting could result in a series of higher monthly paychecks for the rest of your life.
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