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Five Ways to Get More Out of Your Social Security Benefits

By Jeff Bowers, CFP 
Bowers Advisory Group, LLC

Delay Collecting Your Benefits

Technically, you can begin collecting benefits at age 62, but your benefits may be significantly reduced. Instead, waiting till your "full retirement age" (FRA) may be a better option, because it's the age at which you're entitled to full benefits. To see your FRA, click here.

Source: SSA: Full Retirement Age

Claim Spousal Benefits

Married individuals can claim benefits based on either their personal earnings record (work history) or up to 50% of their spouse's. This may be a better choice if your spouse's benefit is higher. Be aware that you cannot claim a spousal benefit until your spouse has filed his/her own claim.

Source: SSA: "Benefits For Your Spouse"

Claim Survivor Benefits

Imagine John & Mary both claimed benefits based on their own earnings records. Now imagine John passed away, leaving Mary behind. Under certain circumstances, Mary could file to receive John's benefit or increase her own to the same amount he enjoyed if it was higher.

Source: SSA: "If You Are The Survivor"

Watch Your Taxable Income

People with a substantial source of income (wages, interest, dividends, etc.) in addition to their benefits may find their benefits taxed up to 85%. For that reason, it's worth looking at tax-free sources of income to supplement your benefits during retirement.

Source: SSA: "Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefit"

Work For at Least 35 Years

After adjusting for inflation, the SSA uses the 35 years in which you earned the most to calculate your average monthly earnings, which is what your benefit is based on. If you worked fewer than 35 years, the years you earned zero may be applied to that average, lowering your monthly benefit.

Source: SSA: "Your Retirement Benefit: How It's Figured"

Want to learn more? Ready to review your Social Security options? Give us a call at 240-329-3333!