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Worried About Life After Work? Get More Out of Your Social Security Benefits With These Tips

Worried About Life After Work? Get More Out of Your Social Security Benefits With These Tips

February 26, 2024

Social Security benefits are critical to retirement planning. These monthly benefits provide a financial safety net for millions of Americans. But you must navigate the system strategically to get the most out of your Social Security benefits. Here are some valuable tips to help you manage your Social Security benefits that may make your retirement more comfortable.


Understand Full Retirement Age

Your full retirement age (FRA) is from age 66 to 67, depending on the year you were born.1 Your FRA is the age at which you may receive your full Social Security retirement benefit. Knowing your FRA is essential because claiming benefits early (starting from age 62) decreases the monthly benefit amount you'll get for life. Moreover, for each year you delay after your FRA, up to age 70, your benefits increase by a certain percentage if there are no problems with the Social Security Fund.

Determine your FRA and carefully consider when it makes sense for you to start receiving benefits based on your circumstances. While claiming early might be necessary for some, delaying benefit payments could be a powerful strategy for those who can wait and want to increase their scheduled monthly income by delaying benefit payments.


Double-Check Your Earnings Record

Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you haven't worked for a full 35 years, zeros are factored into the calculation for each year you did not receive wage income. Too many zero years and your benefits are lower. Make sure you worked for at least 35 years and double-check your earnings record by getting a copy of it from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you notice any errors, work with the SSA to correct them. 2

To improve your earnings record, continue working before taking Social Security benefits if you haven't yet passed that 35-year threshold.


Explore Spousal Benefits

Married couples have additional opportunities to manage their Social Security benefits. Spousal benefits allow a spouse to claim up to 50% of their partner's benefit amount, even if the claiming spouse never worked. Coordinating the timing of when each spouse claims their benefits could increase your household income.


Be Mindful of Tax Implications

While Social Security benefits aren't always taxable, they might be if your total income exceeds a certain threshold. Understanding the tax implications of each additional dollar earned may help you plan your finances and manage your income more effectively, potentially decreasing your taxes.

Managing your Social Security benefits requires careful planning and considering various factors. A financial professional may work with you to make a plan, considering all your circumstances. Take the time to assess your situation and make informed decisions that could benefit you and your loved ones during retirement.



Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

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Footnotes

1 Starting Your Retirement Benefits Early
https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/agereduction.html

2 How to Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record
https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/social-security/articles/how-to-correct-your-social-security-earnings-record