Four Strategies to Increase Your Social Security Benefit

One of the most powerful ways that people can increase their income in later life is to maximize their Social Security benefits. Below are four strategies to earn a higher monthly payment:

Earn a Higher Income- The more workers earn during their career from jobs and/or self-employment, the larger their Social Security payments will be. Higher incomes often require additional college degrees or training, increased work hours, and/or managerial responsibilities.

Work at Least 35 Years- Social Security benefits are calculated on 35 years of career earnings. Retirees who fall short of this mark will have $0 averaged into their benefit calculation for years without earned income.

Work Until Full Retirement Age– Full retirement age (FRA) is 66 for people born from 1943 to 1954 and 67 for those born in 1960 or later. In between these two dates, FRA gradually increases in two-month intervals (e.g., 66 and 6 months if born in 1957). Benefits can be claimed before full retirement age, as early as age 62, but they are permanently reduced.

Consider Delayed Retirement Credits- Social Security benefits increase about 8% a year if benefits are delayed beyond FRA up until age 70. After age 70, there is no financial advantage for waiting any longer. Key factors to consider are financial need, health status, amount of retirement savings, and plans to work after retirement.

There are also benefit-planning strategies that people can use with a spouse. A common recommendation is for the lower-earning spouse to claim benefits at FRA and the higher earner to delay up until age 70 to increase the amount that both spouses will eventually receive. For more information about Social Security, visit www.ssa.gov.

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