Home Alternative guide 3 unexpected ways to ask for more from Social Security

3 unexpected ways to ask for more from Social Security


In January 2022, the average monthly check for Social Security retirement benefits was $1,661, or about $20,000 a year. This is clearly not enough to comfortably support most of us in retirement. You will collect more if you’ve earned more than average in your working life, but it’s still likely to be far less than you’d like.

Fortunately, we can supplement that Social Security income by saving and investing during our working years. We can also employ certain strategies to increase our eventual benefits. Here are three.

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1. Apply for spousal benefit

Many people don’t realize that spousal benefits exist, but they are – and they can be a boon for many people, such as those who have earned little or nothing during their working years (perhaps because that they stayed at home and take care of the children) or those who earned much less than their spouse.

Social Security spousal benefits can provide up to 50% of the benefit your spouse is entitled to at full retirement age (which is 66 or 67 for most of you). us nowadays). The rules can be a little tricky, so be sure to read them if the prospect of spousal benefits is appealing.

In general, you cannot collect until you have reached the age of 62, you have been married for at least one year and your spouse has started collecting.

Spousal benefits are even available to divorced spouses, subject to certain criteria. For example, you must have been married for at least 10 years, divorced for at least two years, and not have remarried.

2. Increase your income

Another way to increase your Social Security benefits is to simply earn more. You may not think it’s possible, but it could be more possible than you think. For starters, have you recently asked for a raise at work? A 2018 PayScale.com report noted that 70% of workers surveyed who asked for a raise got one, and 39% even got the amount they asked for.

You can also increase your salary by finding a new, better paying position. Obtaining an additional certification or degree can also help you qualify for a higher salary.

Another strategy is to add a side gig or two to your routine. There are countless possibilities. A no-brainer is just getting a regular part-time job on the side. If you can earn, say, $16 an hour doing 10 overtime hours per week, that’s $160 per week (before taxes), or more than $8,000 per year. Other possibilities include making and selling things online or offline, such as soaps, jewelry, sweaters, candles, and even furniture. You can tutor children in school subjects or give music or language lessons to children or adults. Drive for a ride-sharing service. Walk a dog or babysit a cat.

Here’s one final income-boosting strategy for increasing your Social Security benefits: The formula used to determine your benefits averages your income for the 35 years you earned the most (adjusted for inflation). So once you’re 35 behind you, if you’re earning more (on an inflation-adjusted basis) than you’ve earned in the past, each additional year you work will eliminate your lowest-earning year. calculation, which will increase your advantage.

Person sitting next to a laptop and looking at his watch.

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3. Claim your benefits sooner or later

Finally, you can increase or reduce your benefits by starting to receive them before or after full retirement age. You can start from the age of 62 until the age of 70. For each year of deferral, your benefits will increase by approximately 8%. So, carrying over from 67 to 70 will increase this advantage by about 24%. This is clearly a good way to get the most out of Social Security, but only if you live longer than average. The system is designed so that those who live an average lifespan receive roughly the same total benefits, regardless of when they begin to collect. (After all, those who collect later will receive fewer checks.)

For some people, a less obvious way to get the most out of the program is to start collecting your benefits. early. This can be a wise decision if you are in poor health or if many of your loved ones did not live long. For example, if you have a good chance of dying around age 75, starting at age 62 will earn you checks for 13 years – up to 156 of them – whereas starting at age 67 at age full retirement, you will only get eight years. years of controls. They would be bigger than if you waited until 67, but you would only get about 96.

Here are some strategies you might consider using to bolster your potential Social Security checks. To create additional retirement income, be sure to also save and invest for your retirement.

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