13 Ways to Get More Social Security

Better Investing


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

There are actions you can take today to boost your Social Security payments during retirement – adding up to thousands of extra dollars in your golden years.

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retiree in 2013 is estimated at $1,261, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s just $15,132 a year – hardly enough to live on.

Hopefully when you reach retirement, you’ll have a nice nest egg to offset hurdles like vanishing pensions and unpredictable stock-market returns. But either way, there are certain actions you can take today to boost your Social Security payments during retirement – and they can add up to thousands of extra dollars in your golden years. Check out this video from Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson, then read on for more.

Here are 13 things you can think about today to increase your Social Security payments during retirement:

1. Work at least 35 years

Social Security benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-earning working years. If you work fewer years, you’ll have years with zero income averaged in – which will lower your payout.

2. Ask for a raise

If you experience a jump in salary, you’ll likely boost your future earning potential and may see an increase in your Social Security payments down the road – since as we just explained, Social Security takes into account the 35 top-earning years of your career.

3. Take a second job

The same logic applies: If you earn more each year, you’ll likely increase the amount you get in Social Security when you retire.

4. Wait until full retirement age to claim Social Security

You can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but you might not want to: Your benefit will be reduced by 25 percent for life.  To get your full payment, wait until you reach full retirement age – currently 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954. For those born between 1955 and 1959, the age gradually rises toward 67.  For those born in 1960, it’s 67.

5. Better yet: Wait until age 70

If you can afford to wait until age 70 to claim Social Security benefits, it’ll pay off. Thanks to what the Social Security Administration calls “delayed retirement credits,” benefits increase 8 percent each year you delay tapping into Social Security – up till age 70. So waiting until you reach 70 means about a third more income for life.

When considering this strategy, it’s particularly beneficial for the higher-earning spouse in a marriage to hold out until age 70 to increase the total benefits the couple will receive throughout their lifetime. In the event that the spouse with the higher benefit passes away, the surviving spouse will receive the higher payment.

If you took benefits early and regret the move, it might not be too late to fix it. You may be able to repay all the benefits you received so far and restart them at a higher level based on your age. But this policy isn’t as flexible as it used to be: For more details, check out this page on the SSA site.

6. Use online tools

If you’re unsure about the best time to claim benefits based on your individual budget, health, life expectancy, or other factors, use online resources to help you decide. A good place to start is SocialSecurity.gov/MyStatement, where you’ll get your personalized statement. This estimates what your benefits will be at age 62, at full retirement age, or at age 70.

Once you get estimates for both you and, if applicable, your spouse, there are other online tools that compare your benefits under various scenarios to help you determine the best claiming strategy. Consider AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator or Analyze Now’s “Strategic Social Security Planner.”

7. Claim spousal benefits

If you’re married, you have a choice: You can either take the benefit based on your work history, or half your spouse’s benefit. So if your spouse earned a lot more than you did, and has a higher benefit as a result, compare and see which will pay the most.

You can also claim Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s work record if you were married for at least 10 years. Doing so doesn’t reduce their check or otherwise impact them. In fact, they’ll never know you applied.

8. Taking early retirement? Beware of outside income

If you start taking benefits before reaching your full retirement age, employment elsewhere can reduce your Social Security checks.

For example, say you started taking Social Security in 2012 at age 62 and your full retirement age is 66. For 2012, your benefit would be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earned in gross wages or net self-employment income above $14,640.

If 2012 was the year you reached full retirement age, you could have earned up to $38,880 prior to the month you turned 66. More than that and your benefit would be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earned.

After you reach full retirement age, you get your full benefit no matter how much you earn.

9. Claim twice

A dual-income retired couple may be able to claim spousal benefits, then later switch to payments based on their own work record. This could make sense if waiting until a later age would result in higher benefits.

For example, say the husband is 66 and the wife is 62. If the husband files for benefits, the wife could opt for half her husband’s benefit, while still earning money and letting her benefit grow. When she turns 70, she could drop the spousal benefit and file for benefits based on her own work record.

There are lots of strategies like this to maximize Social Security. As you approach retirement age, be sure and do lots of reading. This article from Kiplinger is a good example.

10. Benefits for your kids

When you start collecting Social Security benefits, unmarried dependent children under age 18 may qualify to receive benefits worth up to half of your full retirement benefit amount. This can include a biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild.  They may also get benefits if they’re 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12) or 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.

11. Plan ahead for taxes

If the sum of your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest, and half your 2012 Social Security benefits exceeds $34,000 ($44,000 for couples), up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable. You can minimize this expense by using certain tax-saving moves, such as investing in annuities that allow you to earn interest that isn’t taxed until you withdraw it.

12. Do your due diligence

Always read your Social Security statements (either received as paper statements in the mail or online at SocialSecurity.gov/MyStatement) to be sure everything has been reported correctly. Although inaccuracies are uncommon, some scenarios lend themselves to a greater chance of error – such as a name change your employer failed to update on company records.

13. Clear your debts

Your Social Security benefits are protected from most debt collections, but they can be taken to collect unpaid federal taxes, federal student loan balances, and child support or alimony. Clearing these debts will leave your Social Security benefits untouched.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money Pit

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,083 more deals!