Do you know all 4 of these Social Security secrets?

(Dan Caplinger)

If you want to get bigger Social Security checks when you retire, it’s important to know everything you can about the federal government’s program. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get the information you need, and many people are still in the dark when it comes to the key aspects of Social Security that determine the size of your benefits. Below, you’ll learn more about four essential parts of Social Security that aren’t as well known as you might think.

1. Earning more increases your benefits, but the amount of the boost depends on how much you earn

Your best 35 years of earnings history helps determine your monthly benefit, so increasing your average earnings will increase the size of your Social Security checks. However, people with lower incomes over the course of their careers get a bigger boost from every extra dollar they earn than people with higher incomes.

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Specifically, the formula that determines benefit amounts adds $0.90 to the standard pension for every $1 in average monthly career earnings up to a certain amount, which is $1,115 for those who turn 62 in 2023.

Once your average monthly earnings exceed that limit, every $1 more translates to just $0.32 in extra benefits, up to $6,721. Beyond that, you’ll receive just $0.15 in extra benefits for a $1 increase to your average monthly revenue.

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2. Retiring later can give your benefits a double boost

Choosing to defer retirement for an extra year can help increase your Social Security benefits in two ways. Many people have their peak earnings years late in their career, so an extra year of work will often be a year in the top 35 that boosts average monthly earnings. Also, if you can delay filing for Social Security another year because you work longer hours, your checks will typically be 6% to 8% higher than they would be if you had previously claimed.

3. There is no double benefit for spouses

Many people know that married couples have access to two different types of benefits. Those who have their own work history can claim retirement benefits based on their earnings, but they can also claim spousal benefits based on their spouse’s work history.

However, you can’t take these two benefits and just add them together. Instead, the Social Security Administration applies the pension first. If your spousal benefit would be higher, then the SSA increases your payment to the higher spousal benefit amount. If your retirement benefit were higher, you essentially get no additional benefit from being entitled to a spousal benefit.

4. Age 62 is not the earliest date for Social Security benefits if you are a surviving spouse

Most regular workers’ retirement and spousal benefits are first available at age 62. However, if you are married and your spouse dies, you may be eligible for survivor benefits, which are available sooner.

In particular, most surviving spouses can apply for the survivor’s benefit from the age of 60. Disabled people can apply for it as early as the age of 50. additional money can still be valuable.

One thing to note, also, is that remarriage can end your survivor benefits. However, if you wait until age 60 or later before remarrying, you will still be able to claim Survivors benefits based on your deceased ex-spouse’s work history.

Get the benefits you deserve

Social Security can be complicated to understand. Fortunately, however, some basic concepts are quite easy to learn, as long as you know them. Make sure you get every Social Security penny you are eligible to receive.

The $18,984 Social Security bonus that most retirees completely overlook

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a rise in retirement income. For example: One simple trick could make you up to $18,984 more… every year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we all seek. Just click here to find out how to learn more about these strategies.

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