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Ways To Maximize Your Social Security Checks

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Flickr: DonkeyHotey

These days not many people have much of a plan for retirement. And if your job is not the type to offer a 401(k), then you need to focus on your Social Security payments. With how shaky the possibilities are to even receive retirement benefits, Social Security benefits are now a main source of income, though they were never intended to be.

First introduced in 1935, it was meant to provide a buffer to anyone without a proper retirement nest egg. With it now being so important to pay into, learning to maximize those benefits is of vital importance. Here are a few tips you can use to maximize those future SSI checks:

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1. Work for At Least 35 Years

Because the Social Security Administration calculates a person’s income over an average of 35 years, working for that length of time is one of the best ways to maximize social security.

For every year that was spent unemployed or entering the workforce later than others, each will be counted as zero on the SSA’s AIME (average indexed monthly income) formula.

Not to worry, though. If you manage to work a full 35 years, each year spent working will bump out a goose egg, bringing your numbers back up to a better spot.

2. Earn More

If having enough paid into Social Security is a concern, getting a second job will do wonders to increase those payments later on in life. You’ll have extra cash in your pocket and you will feel far more secure in your future.

Money.usnews.com says “Earnings of up to $132,900 in 2019 are used to calculate your retirement payments.”

3. Work Until Your Full Retirement Age

For the most part, the retirement age is about 66 or 67. Working till that age will help ensure that you are given full payments by the SSA. For each year you retire too early, you are penalized about 7% permanently.

AARP says “…If you’re entitled to $1,000 a month if you start at 66, you would receive only $750 at 62.”

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Knowing these are permanent and unchangeable, early retirement does not seem like the smart play here. Examine your options, and if working till 66 or 67 sounds like a good idea, go for it.

4. Delay Claiming Until Age 70

While health might not allow some of us to work past 60 or even 55, a person in ideal health might be able to delay retirement until their 70th birthday. Consider doing this, and you’ll get an additional 8% increase for each year it’s delayed until then.

Once you hit 70, file for retirement as there are no benefits to waiting past this age.

5. Don’t Earn Too Much in Retirement

According to money.news.com, “Social Security beneficiaries under their full retirement age who earn more than $17,640 in 2019 will have $1 withheld for every $2 they earn above the limit. The year you turn your full retirement age, the earnings limit jumps to $46,920 and the penalty decreases to $1 withheld for every $3 above the limit.”

6. Maximize Survivor’s Benefits

As with a will, if a spouse is the designated beneficiary in one’s Social Security papers, they will receive the benefits. Those survivor benefits have the potential to be maximized if you delay filing for retirement.

That being said, make sure to keep an eye on your health to avoid any unforeseen medical expenses. Keeping an eye on your health with also help in decreasing your chances of dying from a condition that could have been prevented with treatment.

7. Make Sure Your Work Counts

A common mistake you might make is thinking your check is automatically being paid for your Social Security. With the help of a ‘My Social Security’ account, you can make sure that the taxes on your pay stub match up to watch has been documented by the Social Security Administration.

8. Include Family

With certain limits, you can increase your Social Security if you claim children under the age of 19. By doing so, you might get as much as half of your full retirement benefits. You’ll have more money in your retirement, and there will also be a couple of dollars there in case your children need gas to get to work in the future.

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9. Claim Spousal Payments

According to the official Social Security Administration website, “…You may be able to get a spouse’s retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years of age and your spouse is receiving retirement or disability benefits.”

While it is possible to receive benefits based on a partner’s income, you cannot claim your spouse’s payments if you are already collecting.

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