September 23

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How To Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

By Mac McLean

September 23, 2021


Social Security provides its recipients a guaranteed monthly payment that should replace 40 percent of their pre-retirement income. It’s possible to maximize these payments by delaying your retirement or taking advantage of the Social Security Administration’s spousal benefits option. Keep on reading to find out on how to maximize your social security benefits.

Sign up for one of our free online retirement planning events today so you can learn more about these three ways you can maximize your monthly Social Security benefit payments today. These events will also give you a chance to meet someone who can teach you more about these strategies and help you incorporate them into your overall retirement plan.

  • Delay your retirement – One of the easiest factors you can control when filing for Social Security benefits is the age when you choose to retire. People who delay filing past their full retirement age – 66ish for those born between 1955 and 1959, 67 for those born after 1960 – can increase their benefit payments by 8 percent per year for up to four years. If you reach your full retirement age at 67, you’ll receive a monthly benefit payment that is 108 percent of what you’d normally receive if you retire at age 68, 116 percent of what you’d receive if you retired at 69, and 124 percent of what you’d receive if you retired at 70. One benefit of this strategy is that your benefit payment is based on the 35 years where you earned the most money while working. Every year you work past your full retirement age replaces a year when you may have earned less money and that can increase your monthly benefit payment as well.
  • Delay filing but still “retire” – Nothing in the Social Security Administration’s rules and regulations says you must file for benefits the second you stop working. You might want to consider living off your investments until you turn 70 and can get the highest monthly benefit payment from Social Security you are due. And, if considering this strategy, keep in mind that you can start receiving Medicare at age 65 regardless of whether you file for Social Security. The $148.50 a month premium most people will for Medicare Part B this year is far less than what you’d pay for a private health insurance plan on purchased on the individual marketplace.   It might even be less than what you’d pay for an employer-supported health insurance plan.
  • Marry up – The final option to consider when it comes to maximizing your benefits is Social Security’s spousal benefits program. If your earnings history is lacking – something that might happen when a person steps away from the workforce to provide care to a child or parent – it’s possible to claim Social Security benefits off your spouse’s record. Under the program’s guidelines, you can claim a monthly Social Security benefit equal to one-third or one-half of your spouse’s benefit, depending on how old you are when you file.  If your spouse dies before you do, you can receive his or her full benefit amount each month. These rules apply to divorced couples as well, so long as they were married for 10 or more years before they split up.

Setting up a secure account with the Social Security Administration’s my Social Security tool is one of the first things you should do when learning more about your benefits. This secure, government-operated portal gives you a chance to review your earnings history and see an estimate of how much money you could receive from the program each month, depending on when you plan to retire.

Signing up for one of our free online retirement planning events today should be your next step when it comes to maximizing your benefits.  Each event will help you learn more about the program and meet an expert who can help you see how they’ll fit into your overall retirement plan.

Mac McLean

About the author

Based out of Bend, Oregon, Mac McLean is a freelance writer who covers older adults and the issues affecting their daily lives. He currently writes for this website, the AARP Bulletin, and Waste Alert. He and his wife are riding out the pandemic with their 12-year-old English Springer Spaniel mix in a 200-square-foot guest house on a 2.2-acre farm surrounded by chickens, cows, pigs, and a donkey that simply will not shut up.

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