Many adults at or near retirement think about ways to maximize Social Security benefits. Long considered a complementary component of retirement savings, Social Security income has become an increasingly important topic for hard-working Americans. Social Security planning is now an essential step in securing your financial future.

It is important to understand the types of benefits that are available. While retirement benefits are the most common type that people claim, there are several other categories of Social Security benefits. You may be eligible for disability, survivors, or supplemental benefits.

For instance, couples may wish to explore supplemental spousal benefits. Spouses who strategize on when to file for benefits can maximize their combined lifetime benefits. Let’s explore a few of the other ways you can maximize your Social Security benefits.

Increase your earnings

Some aspects of Social Security are rather complex. But one is simple: The more money you make in your working years, the greater your Social Security benefits will be. This can be accomplished from several angles.

First, if possible, make sure you work for at least 35 years. Your benefits calculation is based on the 35 years that you earn the most. Any years below 35 are assigned a figure of zero and reduce your Social Security payout. Even a part-time job to get you to that 35-year mark will help.

This goes hand in hand with the next point. To maximize your benefits, you will want to maximize your earnings. Aside from getting a side job, you can adopt measures to proactively increase your salary.

Focus on your career development. Expand your skill set, embrace continuing education, and perform at your best. When it comes time to request a raise, you should have an arsenal of justifications at your disposal. If you find yourself plateauing in a position, consider making a change. Continually strive to advance your career and earnings.

Timing is everything

The size of your Social Security check also depends on the age at which you sign up for benefits. You may file as early as age 62. However, your benefit could be as much as 30% less than the amount you could have received by waiting until full retirement age. This is because the Social Security Administration reduces benefits in cases of early retirement.

To receive your full payments, you must claim Social Security at your full retirement age. For most people, this is age 66 or 67. Signing up before your retirement age will lead to a permanent reduction in your monthly payments.

But this doesn’t mean you have to sign up when you reach your retirement age. The age at which you file for benefits will impact how much you receive. There may be an argument in favor of waiting until after your retirement age. Doing so could allow you to earn delayed retirement credits which can increase your payments by 8% annually in the period between your full retirement age and 70. At age 70, no additional benefit can be gained from filing later.

Be mindful of earnings limits

Many people retire and then decide to reenter the workforce for one reason or another. Perhaps they discover that a traditional retirement lifestyle is not fulfilling for them, or they want to earn extra money to cover a specific need or want. The decision to go back to work is a personal choice, but if you have already started collecting Social Security benefits, you’ll want to pay close attention to your earnings.

If you are under your full retirement age and earn more than the Social Security Administration’s annual earnings limit, your benefits may be decreased. For 2021, this amount is $18,960. If you earn over $18,960, then $1 of every $2 you earn above this limit is deducted from your payments. If you reached full retirement age prior to reentering the workforce, the limit goes up to $50,520, and $1 of every $3 earned above the limit is deducted from your payments.

If you are wondering about how to maximize Social Security benefits for you and for your family, work with a financial advisor who can analyze different scenarios and make a recommendation.


The information described herein is distributed for informational and educational purposes and is derived from sources believed to be accurate, but no guarantee can be made as to its accuracy or completeness.  Any opinions stated herein are current only as of the date of original publication and are subject to change without notice.  Neither WealthSource Partners, LLC nor its affiliates have any obligation to provide revised opinions in the event of changed circumstances.  WealthSource makes no warranties and is not responsible for your use of the information described herein or for any error, cost, loss, or penalty resulting from your use.

Patrick Brewer

Austin, TX WealthSource Team

Patrick believes that people deserve access to unbiased financial advice — and that financial education can help families make better decisions.

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