For most, Social Security provides a solid foundation for retirement income. In fact, as of September 2022, over 70 million Americans were collecting benefits. However, not everyone knows exactly how or when to start tapping into this resource. As you grow older and retirement looms on the horizon, the decisions you make start to have a more crucial impact on the amount of money you receive, so it’s important that you know what to expect. Let’s discuss how you can maximize your benefits and give yourself the best possible chance to live out the retirement of your dreams.
Starting with the Basics
Social Security is a federal program that was ultimately designed to support disabled and retired workers and their families by providing them with a supposedly fail-proof source of income. Your benefits will depend on how much you contribute to Social Security throughout your lifetime, as well as how much money you earn throughout your career. You should keep in mind that your Social Security benefits alone will not likely be able to maintain your current lifestyle. You might have a generic 60/40 portfolio that you expected to cover the rest of your income needs but that possibly needs updating after recent market activity. Regardless, Social Security can provide a helping hand with your income. Plus, it’s guaranteed for life!
Maximizing Your Benefits
There are many different approaches that you can take to get the most out of your Social Security benefits. Let’s discuss a few.
- First and foremost, it is recommended that you work for at least 35 years. Although individuals that have worked for just 10 years are eligible to claim Social Security, you’ll get much more bang for your buck the longer you work. In fact, your benefit amount is based on the average of your 35 highest-earning years. So, it’s easy math: the less you work, the less you’ll earn.
- Next, try to hold off on filing for Social Security benefits until you reach full retirement age. While you can begin to enroll in benefits at age 62, it is encouraged that individuals wait until age 66 or 67 to be eligible to receive the highest number of benefits. It’s important to note, however, that once you reach 70 years old, the increase in benefits ceases. For those who have little income, it may be wise to enroll in spousal benefits. In some cases, married individuals can earn up to an impressive 50% of their partner’s benefit. This resource can be a game-changer for those in a pinch.
- Lastly, it is crucial that individuals planning to earn Social Security monitor their earnings and check for mistakes once enrolled. Even the smallest miscalculations can impact your retirement income, so be vigilant!
All in all, Social Security is a vital aspect of everyone’s retirement plan, and while it may seem daunting, a social security strategy that works for you is within reach, and we are here to help. We’ve only scratched the surface with this discussion of Social Security. If you have questions regarding how you can make the most of your benefits, reach out to us today for a complimentary review of your finances.