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

If you’re not close to retirement age, you may not have given much thought to Social Security, but you should — because it’s probably much more vital than you think. Social Security benefits make up about 30% of elderly people’s retirement income. And they make up 90% or more for 12% of elderly male beneficiaries and 15% of elderly female recipients.

Here are some tips that can help you get more out of Social Security — which can lead to a more financially secure future.

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1. Work for at least 35 years

The formula used to calculate your benefits is based on your earnings in the 35 years in which you earned the most (with each year’s earnings adjusted for inflation). If you have earned high salaries in your working life, you can expect solid Social Security benefits. But, if you only worked for 30 years, the formula will be inserting five zeroes into its calculations, reducing your benefits considerably.

So aim to work for at least 35 years if you can.

2. Maximize your income

Next, perhaps obviously, the bigger your earnings, the bigger your benefits, up to a certain limit. The maximum benefit, for 2023, is $4,555 per month, or about $54,660 for the year. That’s for those who claim their benefits for the first time in 2023, at the age of 70, after having earned the maximum amount that counts in each of their 35 years of earnings. Whew!

Hardly anyone will qualify for that maximum benefit. Indeed, the average retirement benefit was recently just $1,678 per month, or about $20,000 per year. So it’s worth trying extra hard to beef up your earnings in as many years as you can. You might go about it in several ways:

Ask for a raise every few years — and, for best results, deserve it. (According to a report, only 37% of survey respondents had asked for a raise, and a hefty 70% of those who asked got one.)
Consider looking for a better-paying job — or even a better-paying career. Earning an additional degree or professional certification can help with that.
Take on a side gig or two — for a short or long while. If you can find some profitable activities that you actually enjoy, this can be more of a pleasure than a chore. You might, for example, give music or language lessons, or make and sell crafts. If you have the knowledge, you might also find a part-time job such as inspecting homes that you do on the side.

An added bonus of earning more is that you may be able to sock away more money in retirement accounts, which will boost your future finances even more.

3. Delay starting to collect your benefits

Finally, for many people, the best time to start collecting your benefits is not 62, the earliest age at which you can do so, or 66 or 67, which is the age at which you can collect your full benefits. It’s age 70 — because your benefits shrink if you claim them early and grow if you delay collecting them (up to age 70).

If you stand a good chance of living a shorter-than-average life or you simply need that income early, claiming at 62 or 63 is a perfectly reasonable move. But if you might live very long and you can delay starting to collect (perhaps by working longer or withdrawing more from IRAs and other accounts until age 70), then consider delaying.

It’s worth learning more about Social Security, so that you can make strategic decisions regarding it when the time comes.

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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