4 Social Security Secrets for Even Bigger Checks | Smart Change: Personal Finance | qctimes.com – Quad-City Times

More Social Security money can provide you with a more secure retirement. After all, cost-of-living adjustments are built into the program to help ensure buying power isn’t eroded due to inflation. And benefits are guaranteed for life.

Unfortunately, the average Social Security benefit isn’t very big, coming in at just $1,661 per month.

The good news is that there are ways to boost your benefits and score more money in each check. Here are the Social Security secrets you need to know to make that happen.

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1. You can increase your benefit by claiming it later

Many people don’t really understand how the age when you claim benefits affects the amount you receive. But this can actually have a bigger impact than almost any other decision you make.

Every retiree is assigned a full retirement age (FRA). For those born in 1956 or later, it’s between 66 and four months and 67. But you don’t have to claim benefits at that age. You can start checks at 62. However, for each month you get a check before your FRA, your payments shrink. On the other hand, you can wait beyond your FRA, and for each month you delay until age 70, your benefits grow.

The impact of early or late filing is profound. If you start receiving benefits at 62 and your FRA is 67, your monthly payments could be as much as 30% smaller than your standard benefit would have been had you waited. But they could increase up to 24% compared to your standard benefit if you start at 70.

If you simply wait an extra year or more to get Social Security, your checks will be much bigger and provide more monthly income for the rest of your life.

2. Working more years at a higher salary will help your benefits

Benefits are also based on your earnings, not just the age when you claim them. Your standard benefit at full retirement age is equal to a percentage of your average inflation-adjusted earnings during the 35 years when your salary was highest.

This means, at a minimum, you’ll want to work 35 years to avoid including years of $0 wages when your average earnings are calculated, since that would shrink your Social Security checks. But it can actually pay off to work even more years if your salary has gone up over time.

For each extra year you work beyond 35, one of your work years won’t be counted in your benefits calculation. So putting in more years at a …….

Source: https://qctimes.com/business/investment/personal-finance/4-social-security-secrets-for-even-bigger-checks/article_82c4e775-485d-54a2-934d-db1c265cfea6.html

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