Understanding Social Security Strategies

Michael Laine |

As you age, the question of when to collect Social Security (SS) retirement benefits will likely come to mind. There is no one size fits all age; your unique circumstances and goals will dictate the appropriate time for you to take Social Security retirement benefits. Some SS strategies may boost your monthly benefit amount, helping you get the most from your SS benefits. Here are some strategies to consider:


1. Delay SS benefits- You can increase your monthly benefit if you delay claiming Social Security past your full retirement age. You will accrue delayed retirement credits that will boost your monthly benefit by 8% for each year of delay between your full retirement age and age 70. 


2. Suspend SS benefits- If you took SS benefits before your full retirement age and age 70, you may suspend your payments and earn delayed credits, helping boost your monthly benefit by 8% for each year of suspended benefits to age 70.


3. Work 35+ years- SS benefits are calculated using your 35 highest-earnings years, making it important to have at least 35 years of full-time work. Working beyond your full retirement age can help boost your earnings qualification number and your monthly benefit amount.


4. SS survivor benefits- When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse can claim the deceased’s benefits if higher. Delaying survivor benefits until the deceased spouse’s full retirement age or older helps increase the surviving spouse’s monthly benefit.


5. SS Survivor benefits for children- Children of a deceased worker can qualify for benefits until age 18 or 19 while a full-time high school student and for a child diagnosed with a disability up to age 22. A widow or widower caring for a child under 18 may also qualify for benefits.


If you are married, maximize your lifetime benefits using these strategies:


5. Use the SS spousal benefit strategy- Married couples can use this strategy where one spouse claims benefits up to 50% of their spouse’s benefit if the benefit is higher than their own. Ex-spouses are also eligible to use this strategy if married for at least ten years.


6. The spousal split- Using this strategy, the lower-earning spouse takes SS retirement benefits at an earlier age, such as 67, and the higher-earning spouse delays their benefits until age 70. This scenario allows access to some SS retirement benefits earlier and a higher benefit amount down the road.

Understanding how claiming benefits at specific ages and using SS strategies will impact your situation over time is important. A financial professional can help calculate your benefit amount or go to www.ssa.gov to register and calculate your benefit amount at specific ages. Once you have your information, you can determine what age is appropriate for you.


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.

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 Fresh Finance.

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