How to Max Out Your Social Security
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
While many of my clients may not depend on their social security benefits for a successful retirement, it's still important to maximize your benefits. Some stats that may surprise you are:
1. Social Security represents about 34% of income for the elderly.
2. 21% of married couples and 43% of singles rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
See this Social Security fact sheet for more information about Social Security.
Some of the things you can do to maximize your Social Security benefits are:
1. Wait to take Social Security. You may be able to take social security as early as age 62, but if you wait until age 70, your payments will increase by over 75%. To make the best decision you first need to consider is how long your expect to live. Break-even is at about age 83. So if you live past age 83, you are better off waiting to take your social security until you are age 70. If you expect to have a shorter life span, then you might want to start taking social security sooner. I always have a discussion with my clients about how long their parents lived, how healthy they are and what their personal expectations for longevity are.
2. Know if you qualify for more than just your retirement benefits. For instance, you may qualify for spousal or survivor benefits. Knowing what benefits you qualify for will help you max out which benefit works to your advantage. For instance, if you are divorced (and you were married for at least 10 years) and your ex had a very high level of income, your spousal benefit may be greater than your own retirement benefit.
3. Don't take Social Security benefits if you are still working. Working and taking social security before your full retirement age (either 66 or 67 depending on when you were born) can lead to a reduction in benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefits are not reduced for any level of other earned income.
There are several web sites that will help you calculate the best way to take benefits.
The above is considered to be general tax/financial information and is not intended to be used as tax/financial advice. If you believe that any of the above applies to you, please consult with a tax or financial professional. See our Legal Statement.