The amount of money you receive from Social Security is based on a number of factors, including how much income you earned throughout your working years, the year you were born and the age at which you file for benefits. Many seniors assume that it's inevitable they'll receive a measly payout no matter what, so they go ahead and claim their benefits while the getting's good. But if you play your Social Security cards right, you could end up with bringing home a heck of a lot more dough.
Go Ahead and Procrastinate
Procrastination has earned a bad rap but when it comes to filing for Social Security, dragging your feet can be a good thing. As you probably know by now, you can claim Social Security any time between the ages of 62 and 70; the longer you wait, the fatter your monthly check will be.
If you choose to claim Social Security early, your benefits will be reduced by a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.
Wait Even Longer
It's hard enough to wait until your full retirement age to file for Social Security but it's even more challenging to put it off until your 70th birthday. However, the reward may be well worth the wait. That's because those who wait until 70 to file for Social Security score a bonus amount. For each year you delay claiming from your full retirement age to the age of 70, your benefit amount will rise by an extra 7-8%. Therefore, if your full retirement age is 66, you could earn up to 32% more if you put off filing until 70.
Get To Work
Many people nearing retirement can't stand the idea of spending an additional year or two in the workforce. However, there are countless financial advantages to working longer. Not only will you bring in more income and beef up your nest egg, but you'll also hike up your Social Security benefits.
Your Social Security payments are calculated by your 35 highest earning years, so if you continue bringing home that higher salary well into your 50s and 60s, you'll essentially nullify some of those low earning years at the start of your career.
Husbands and wives have a few extra tricks up their sleeves when it comes to maxing out their Social Security benefits. That's because married folks can choose to receive Social Security benefits based on their own income or they can opt to receive a payout worth 50% of their spouse's benefit. Talk about wedded bliss.
Correct Your Mistakes
Let's say you filed for Social Security at the age of 62, and you're kicking yourself for not waiting longer for the higher benefit. No biggie. Believe it or not, you actually have a second chance. You can simply file Social Security Form 521, and request the withdrawal of your application.
By submitting this form, you're essentially coming out of retirement. Of course, there's a catch: You'll have to pay back all the Social Security benefits you've received thus far.
While these five clever tricks can definitely help you boost your Social Security benefits, it's important to evaluate your unique situation before you put one of these strategies in motion. Discuss your options with a financial professional who can help you create a winning Social Security game plan.