Social Security isn’t something seniors are automatically eligible for. To qualify for Social Security, you need to work and pay taxes on your income, to the point where you’ve accrued enough work credits in your lifetime.
Seeing as how you’re consistently giving up a chunk of your wages to Social Security taxes throughout your career, it makes sense that you’d want to get the highest monthly benefit once you’re ready to sign up. And if you make these key moves, you could end up with more Social Security income — and a much more comfortable retirement.
1. Boost your income
Social Security doesn’t pay all recipients the same amount of money each month. Rather, it calculates benefits individually. And the amount of money you’re entitled to from Social Security will hinge on your personal earnings history.
That’s why it pays to do what you can to boost your income. The more you earn (up to a certain point, but that threshold is high), the more generous a monthly benefit you can anticipate.
Now you’re unlikely to snag a wage bump by being that person who demands a raise year after year but doesn’t work for it. Instead, grow your skills so your employer is eager and willing to increase your pay.
You can also raise your wages by taking on a second job — even one that has you working on a freelance basis. As you long as report and pay taxes on your income, it’ll count for Social Security purposes.
2. Work at least 35 years
The Social Security Administration takes your 35 highest-paid years of earnings into account when determining what monthly benefit you’ll get. For each year you go without an income, you get a $0 factored into your benefits calculation.
That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on your work history and aim to put in 35 years on the job if you can. If you’re nearing the end of your career but haven’t quite put in 35 years, extending your time in the workforce could result in a higher Social Security payday.
3. Delay your filing until age 70
The monthly Social Security benefit you’re eligible for based on your earnings history is yours to collect in full once you reach full retirement age (FRA). That age is either 66, 67, or 66 and a certain number of months, depending on your year of birth.
But the Social Security Administration rewards filers who delay their claims with a boost to their benefits. For each year you hold off on filing past FRA, your monthly benefits grow 8%, up until you turn 70. So if you’re willing to wait until your 70th birthday to sign up, you’ll snag a minimum boost of 24% (the exact amount will depend on your FRA).
After working hard all your life, you deserve a comfortable retirement free of financial worries. And a higher Social Security benefit could be your ticket to achieving that goal. Employ these strategies, and you may end up very happy with the monthly paycheck you’re in line to collect.
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