Saving for retirement is important. While you can expect some monthly income from Social Security, those benefits may not be enough to cover all your bills. That said, there are steps you can take to lock in a higher monthly Social Security benefit. And the good news? You don’t have to wait until you’re older to act on them.
Quite the contrary — there are some moves you can make earlier in your career to snag a higher payday from Social Security. Here are a few worth tackling.
1. Fight for raises
The monthly Social Security benefit you’re entitled to will hinge on how much money you earn during your 35 most profitable years in the labor force. If you make an effort to fight for raises consistently throughout your career, you might boost your wages and, in turn, score yourself a higher monthly Social Security benefit during retirement.
There are different ways to boost your pay. For one, keep tabs on industry trends as they relate to your salary. If, at any point, you come across data showing that you’re statistically underpaid for what you do, you can use it as fuel for your raise negotiation.
You can also work on making yourself a more valued employee. Building the right skills and going the extra mile could make it so you’re consistently up for a raise year after year. And that could work wonders for your Social Security benefits.
2. Check your earnings statements annually
The wages you earn for Social Security purposes are summarized on a yearly earnings statement. You can, and should, access that statement online and make sure it’s correct on an annual basis. If your wages are ever underreported, it could result in lower benefits down the line.
3. Commit to an extended career
Some people plan for an early retirement and push themselves to attain that goal. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re willing to commit to a longer career, it could result in much higher benefits.
For one thing, the longer you wait to file for Social Security, the higher a monthly benefit you’ll be eligible for (though it’s worth noting that come age 70, your benefits can’t grow any larger). But also, working longer could mean logging in more years of earnings at a higher pay rate.
It’s often the case that people earn the most at the tail end of their careers, once they’ve worked their way up the ladder. Retiring at age 70 versus 65 could mean clocking in five more years of earnings at the highest salary you’ve had in your lifetime. And that could leave you with more money from Social Security to collect.
Don’t settle for less
Even though Social Security should not be your sole source of income during retirement, it pays to get as much money out of it as possible. If you make the above moves during your career, you could set yourself up for a more generous benefit throughout retirement — and the freedom to enjoy your senior years without financial worries.
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