There’s a reason seniors are often advised not to rely too heavily on Social Security in retirement. These benefits will replace about 40% of your pre-retirement pay if you are a middle-income earner. But most seniors need twice that income to live comfortably, which means Social Security alone won’t cut it.
However, there are steps you can take to get more money out of Social Security. Here are some strategies you can use to enjoy bigger paychecks for the rest of your life.
1. Extend your career once your earnings peak
Social Security does not pay the same monthly benefit to all seniors. Instead, the amount of money you are entitled to will depend on how much you earn in 35 years of the highest wages in the workforce.
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If you don’t have a full 35 years of work under your belt, you may be paying to extend your career. For each year within the top 35 years in which you have no record of income, you will have $0 in your benefits calculation.
But even if you Act With a work history of up to 35 years, you can still pay to extend your career once you reach your peak earnings. This way, you can replace a few years of lower income with a higher income, thereby increasing your benefits.
2. Wait until age 70 to apply
You are entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history once you reach your full retirement age (FRA). The FRA depends on your birth year, which is either 66, 67, or somewhere in between (meaning, 66 and a specific number of months).
But for every month you delay a deposit after an FRA, your interest gets a small payment. A two-month deferment won’t make much difference, but a few years’ deferral may.
In fact, you can get deferred retirement credits pending filing for benefits until age 70. For every full year that you delay filing, your benefits get an 8% increase. If your FRA is 67 and you wait until age 70 to enroll in Social Security, you will be looking to increase by 24% for the rest of your life.
3. Increase your income with a second job
It’s a big misconception that only salaried wages count toward Social Security. If you work in any kind of side business on which you pay taxes, whether it’s passenger driving, dog walking, or telemarketing, that income counts toward your future payout. So if you are unable to record consistent increases in your main job, it is worth considering taking on a side job.
Incidentally, holding a second job may make it easier to free up money for retirement savings purposes. And while you can obviously take steps to increase your Social Security income, even as your monthly benefits increase, it can still be beneficial to bring as much money as possible into retirement with you.
Don’t settle for less
Social Security can become an important source of income once you retire. If you’re willing to make some sacrifices, with careful planning, you can set yourself up for higher interest — and the financial freedom that comes with it.
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