If you’re interested in maximizing your Social Security benefits, then this article is for you. Social Security benefits are extremely complex. With thousands of rules to weed through most people simply make a standard claim when they retire. When to take Social Security benefits, how much you should expect to receive for you or your spouse, and how can you maximize benefits for your family are just a few of the questions that are asked. Since Social Security rules are so complex, what ends up happening is that most people leave thousands of dollars on the table.
The truth is that the amount you receive in Social Security benefits can vary greatly depending on steps you take prior to claiming. Here are eight key strategies that should help you maximize Social Security benefits:
- Work a minimum 35 years: the Social Security Administration will use your top 35 years of work history as a part of determining your benefit amount. If you haven’t worked 35 years, guess what? Zeros are factored into your calculation that will lower your Social Security benefit payout amount.
- Boost your earnings: if you’re thinking about retiring early you may want to reconsider. Most individuals earn more income in the later part of their careers. You might consider working those extra couple years to boost your overall earnings history, for a higher Social Security benefit payout.
- Wait until full retirement age: most individuals don’t understand how Social Security benefits work so they simply claim at age 62. Claiming Social Security benefits early will reduce your payout amount by 25% and the impact of this could be permanent. By waiting until your full retirement age (typically 66 or 67 depending on the year you were born) you’ll receive your full retirement benefit amount.
- Delay your benefits until age 70: by delaying your Social Security benefits to age 70 you may be able to increase your social security benefits by up to 132% plus the cost of living adjustments. Be sure to have other sources of retirement income from the time you retire to age 70.
- Change your mind even if you’ve already filed for Social Security benefits: if you’ve applied for social security benefits you may change your mind within the first 12 months of receiving benefits. This strategy will allow you to increase your Social Security benefit payout in the future and will lock in higher benefits.
- Claim spousal Social Security benefits: students have found this strategy helpful for a couple with a non-working spouse or a spouse that has a limited work history. Spouses can potentially receive 50% of the primary worker’s benefits.
- Couples that are both eligible for Social Security benefits: this particular strategy is useful for married couples where both are eligible for Social Security benefits. The objective here would be to receive smaller benefits at full retirement age (FRA) and higher benefits payouts at age 70 and beyond.
- Combination of these strategies: The strategies discussed in this article could be combined to maximize Social Security benefit payouts.
One of the most important things to consider when claiming social security benefits is that everyone’s plan is a little different. Your plan depends on: when you need the money, your overall health, longevity expectations, tax implications, current assets that can be leveraged for retirement income and the list of variations continues.