We all have a vision for what we would like our retirement to look like, and Social Security is just one part of a holistic plan that could help us achieve our goals. Social Security is a form of insurance that protects workers and their families from the loss of income caused by retirement, death, or disability. The Social Security Act was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to provide Americans with economic security in the event that they were no longer able to work due to age or disability.
To maximize your benefits from Social Security, you need to know what you are eligible for, how much it will be worth in retirement, and whether any strategies can help you bring in more money.
In order to be eligible for Social Security benefits, you need to have worked at least 10 years or earned 40 credits of work history; however, the number of benefits you receive will be based on up to 35 years of your highest-paid work history. This means that if you work less than 35 years, you will receive fewer benefits at retirement; if you work more than 35 years, the lowest-earning years will be replaced.
Social Security Worth in Retirement
In addition to your work history, you must be at least 62 years old and not yet receiving benefits from a job where you have worked for 10 years or more. You can receive the total amount at full retirement (66-67), but you can claim early benefits starting at age 62. However, if you plan to take your benefit early, you are subject to an earnings cap. This means that if your income exceeds the earnings cap while you are actively receiving your benefit, then Social Security will withhold $1 of your benefit for every $2 you earn over the cap until you reach full retirement age, when you can earn as much as you like with no limit.
You also have the option of delaying the benefit until age 70, allowing it to grow 8% from your full retirement age. At age 70, there is no further increase.
Strategies to Maximize Social Security Benefits
- Age Split for Couples
- If you and your spouse are eligible for Social Security, you can do a 62/66, 62/70, or 66/70 age split. By doing this, the lower-earning partner would claim benefits early, and the partner with higher earnings would wait to receive the maximum amount, increasing the overall payments.
- Early Benefit for Survivors
- This benefit is applicable to surviving spouses who wish to claim widow/widower’s benefits at age 60. Keep in mind that benefits are reduced by 71.5% and you are subject to the earnings cap, so you might consider delaying taking the survivor benefit.
Each person’s Social Security benefits will look different, so discussing your specific circumstances with your financial advisor is essential. Contact us if you have questions about Social Security so you can plan for the retirement of your dreams.