Okay, let’s all take a minute and honestly look at where Social Security is going. Chances are that, if you are in your 30s or 40s, it might not even be around by the time you retire. Don’t get us wrong, we certainly hope that it is, but the fact is that it’s getting decimated every year and our lovely federal government is doing to decimating. Hopefully this will change but, frankly, not going to hold our collective breath.
Now that we’ve got that little bit of negativity out of the way we like to share with you some of the best ways that we know of to increase your retirement payments from Social Security as best as you can. For anyone that’s going to be retiring in the next few years, these tips and advice may well increase your checks by a substantial amount. Enjoy.
First a little history. The Social Security program continues to be one of the biggest sources of retirement income for many Americans and it recently turned 76 years old. Depending on what you made throughout your career and when you decide to start receiving your Social Security checks, the amount of money that you actually receive may vary greatly. There’s also a chance that you may be able to actually get additional Social Security payments for your spouse, any dependent children that you have and, after you pass on, you’re surviving relatives.
One of the best ways to maximize the amount of money you receive from Social Security is to work for at least 35 years, including making sure that you file taxes during those years as well. (If you don’t file taxes the feds consider that you didn’t work.) The reason that this is so important is that for any years that you haven’t worked the federal government will calculate zero dollars into the equation, something that will lower your payouts substantially.
Another excellent way to increase your payments is to substitute or replace your zero years or lower earning years with higher earning years that you have had later in your career, according to Jim Blankenship, the author of A Social Security Owner’s Manual and a certified financial planner for Blankenship Financial Planning in the city of New Berlin, Illinois.
Earning more money during your working life will not only increase the spending power that you have now but will also increase the amount of your payments from Social Security once you hit retirement. In many cases that might mean switching jobs to get better pay or taking on more than one job at a time. The fact is, your benefits will increase for any year where you have more income than a year prior. The more you make during your working years the more you will receive during your retirement years.
Waiting until you reach your full retirement age is another brilliant way to increase your Social Security payments. For the average baby boomer the magic number is 66 and, for people born in 1960 or later, the number is 67. The reason that this is so important is simply that, if you sign up to start receiving benefits before you hit your full retirement age, the amount of money you receive from Social Security will be reduced permanently from then on. What this means is that claiming Social Security right away after you retire, if you haven’t reached your full retirement age, is a bad idea. A better one would be to make sure you have enough money reserves to get by until you reach 66 or 67 so that you don’t need to claim your Social Security benefits right away and thus maximize your payments.
Waiting until you reach the age of 70 to start collecting your Social Security payments is even better as, between your full retirement age and 70, your Social Security payments will increase by 8 percent per year. That’s a very high rate of return that most people will not be able to find with any other kind of investment. After age 70 however there are no additional benefits and so waiting longer doesn’t make any sense, at least financially.
You can also claim spousal payments based on the work record of whichever spouse has been the higher earner. You can do this based on your own work record or up to 50% of whichever of you had higher earnings, using whichever number is the highest. Keep in mind that spousal benefits will be reduced if you start claiming them before you reach your full retirement age.
Hopefully these excellent tips have already given you some valuable information on how to increase your Social Security checks. In Part 2 we’re going to be looking at some more strategies that you can use do the same so please make sure to come back and join us for that very soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or problems that need an answer, let us know and will get back to you with helpful advice ASAP.