Here are some strategies to help you maximize your Social Security benefits:
- Wait until full retirement age (FRA): Your FRA is based on your birth year and is typically 66 or 67. By waiting until your FRA to start receiving benefits, you'll receive your full retirement benefit as calculated by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Delay beyond full retirement age: For every year you delay beyond your FRA, your benefits increase by 8% until you reach age 70. Consider delaying if you have a longer life expectancy or have other sources of income during this period.
- Coordinate with your spouse: Married couples have different strategies to consider. One approach is to have the higher-earning spouse delay claiming benefits to maximize the survivor benefit for the lower-earning spouse. Consulting with a financial advisor or using online tools can help assess the best option for you.
- Optimize spousal benefits: Spouses can claim up to 50% of the higher-earning spouse's benefit if they are at least FRA. The "file and suspend" strategy, which allowed one spouse to file for benefits and suspend them, is no longer permitted. Consult with a financial advisor to understand how to maximize spousal benefits.
- Minimize taxable income: If you continue working while receiving Social Security benefits before reaching your FRA, a portion of your benefits may be subject to taxes. Explore ways to minimize taxable income, such as tax-efficient investment strategies or reducing work-related earnings.
- Consider widow or widower benefits: If your spouse has passed away, you may be entitled to widow or widower benefits. These benefits can be based on your spouse's earnings history and can provide an additional source of income.
- Ensure accurate earnings record: Review your Social Security earnings record annually to ensure it accurately reflects your income history. Any discrepancies could result in a lower benefit amount.
It's crucial to consult with a financial advisor or use online tools and resources specific to your circumstances to assess how these strategies apply to your retirement plan.