With pensions disappearing fast and increased life expectancy, the role of social security has become more and more important for retirees. After retirement, most of the primary income sources would be checked. It is essential to maximize your social security benefits or retirement benefits. Starting on Aug 14, 1935, by President Franklin D Roosevelt, the social security act has become a great relief for people reaching full retirement age.
The sad part is that most people are not aware of how social security works. In their ignorance of procrastination towards retirement planning, they miss out on essential strategies that can benefit them and boost their income. Research shows that due to this mistake, they lose about a staggering $250,000 in their lifetime.
Here are eight ways through which you could increase or boost your social security benefits.
The structure of social security is calculated on a person’s 35 top-earning years average. So when you work longer, you can convert your lower-paid years into the higher paid year. This strategy is helpful to people who have to take breaks from their work for some personal or family obligation, like taking care of the child or a sick parent. The point to be noted and taken care of here is that if you start your social security early, then the $2 you earn would be reduced by $1 above a limit ($17640 in 2019). So it is advisable to wait a bit before applying.
Delay Your Application
Most people are not aware of this, but delaying applying for the social security benefit can get you a 7% increase in your retirement benefit amount. You can have this increase if you delay between the first claiming age of 62 to your full retirement age of 66; for people born after 1960, this is 67. If you can wait until age 70, this can give your check a boost of 8%, which is terrific. With the life span now increased, it is better to avail this option to maximize your social security benefits.
Always Claim Spousal Benefits (if eligible)
Married couples and even the divorced ones born before Jan 1954 are eligible to claim spousal benefits when they reach 66. They can collect half of their spouses or ex-spouses, for that matter, FRA benefits, all this while their retirement benefits keep on growing. When reaching the age of 70, they can take their maximum benefits. So when making social security decisions, the couples should consider taking survival benefits. Also, the higher earner of both should hold their start of social security until the full retirement age to receive the maximum benefit.
Earning more is another way to enhance your retirement social security check to the maximum. It means that you can increase your earnings to $132,000 or more. It is the upper cap of payments. However, there is a 6.2% social security tax to it. If you try to attain the highest income in all 35 years of your work life, you can avail of the maximum social security benefit of $2861/month presently. A common mistake that self-employed people make is to show their income as less to avoid taxes. This strategy may save them some money, but in the long run, it would cost them dearly when they would apply for social security as they would miss out on the inflation-adjusted higher income.
Your Family Can Boost Your Benefits
Your unmarried minor child is eligible to receive 50% of the primary worker’s disability or retirement benefit. Although the child benefit ends when the child attains 18 years of age, still if the child is 19 and studying in high school, they can receive the benefits. If the child is 18 years or older, if they are disabled, subject to the disability had occurred before the child turned 22. There is also one family maximum limit, which decides on the amount received based on one worker’s payment status. The maximum benefit that can be availed under this is 150% to 188% of the earning member’s monthly earnings at their full retirement age. If the family benefits are crossing this cap, the earning member will continue receiving the benefit, but the dependent amount would be reduced as per proportion.
Use a Do-over
It is a difficult option, but you can reap a good boost in your retirement social security check if chosen. Suppose you withdraw your application and pay back all the amount you received after applying for social security. In that case, you can restart your clock on the benefits, and you can get a 7-8% annual increase in your future social security amount. It can be done once in your lifetime, and the application can only be withdrawn within the first 12 months you collect social security. You must note that suspending and withdrawing are two different things, and you can suspend your benefits in writing or orally any time after you have reached the retirement age. But for withdrawing, you need to fill the social security form SSA -521 before or between 12 months of applying. You also have to pay back the amount you and your family had received, and this would also include any Medicare premiums, if any, deducted from your checks.
Public Sector Employees Can Work in Private-sector Jobs to Boost Social Security Benefits
There are more than a dozen states where the public sector employees are not required to pay FICA taxes. Many of them lose their social security benefits based on their work in the private sector. Still, by working 20 years or more and earning a substantial salary as covered employment, they can significantly diminish the blunt in windfall elimination provision, which has the power to nearly half their social security benefits.
Divorced Spouse Benefits
If you are presently single and your previous marriage was at least ten years or more, you could be eligible for taking spousal benefits based on your divorced spouse’s work record. This amount can be 50% of the ex’s workers’ benefit at their retirement age, but this benefit cannot be taken if you remarry. Even if you have availed this benefit and then you marry again, this benefit would stop. You must be at least 62 or above to claim this benefit.
If your ex-spouse has died and that marriage was ten years or more, then you can get survivor benefits of 100% of your former spouse’s benefits. If you are more than 60, then you can remarry and still get the benefits. For the disabled, the age to remarry is 50. If you are taking care of your ex’s child, who is less than 16 or is disabled, then there is no need for a marriage of 10 years. If the survivor benefit is less than your benefit, then you can always switch to that and vice versa.
These are a few really good tips to boost your social security in the long run. Keep these in mind and start implementing some of them today to reap as many benefits as possible when it’s time to retire.