Maximizing Your Social Security Options

Social Security options for retirement payout keep about 40% of Americans 65 or over out of poverty.  And for 26% of retirees Social Security is their ONLY source of income.  

And being that so many people rely on Social Security for their retirement, it makes sense to investigate ways that we can maximize our payouts. 

To that end, I am going to give those looking to retire soon a few ideas to increase the amount of money they receive from Social Security. 

Delay Payments

For the earliest baby boomers, those born in 1946, their Social Security retirement age is 66.  This is the point when they can start receiving full benefits. 

However, for each year that you delay retirement, Social Security adds 8% to your payout.  You can do this for a maximum of three years and actually end up receiving a 24% increase in your Social Security payout.

Note: under current law there is no added benefit to delaying Social Security payments longer than 3 years.  However, if you can do this through staying at your job or living off of other retirement assets, then you have the potential to significantly increase your payouts over the course of your life.

This strategy can work even better for couples utilizing what is known as a “tag team” approach.  With this strategy one spouse decides to take their payments at their normal retirement age, while the other delays taking their payments for the three years mentioned above.  This will help those couples who do not have the retirement assets bridge the gap…allowing at least one spouse the opportunity to maximize their payout

Take Payments Now

Actually, this does not contradict the first point.  The reason is that your payout from Social Security is based upon your life expectancy, so a lot of it is dependent on how healthy you are. 

And while most boomers can expect to live into their 80’s with advances in medical science only you can make this determination.  The reason that I include this here is because there are no “one size fits all” solutions to situations like this.

So if you are unhealthy it may benefit you to start taking payouts sooner as opposed to later.

Other Retirement Assets

If you have a pension or have been saving into a 401(k) or IRA, you might be able to use these assets as a bridge until you are able to max out your Social Security payments.

You also have the OPTION of seeking out a reverse mortgage if you have sufficient equity in your home.  However, there are as many disadvantages to reverse mortgages as there are advantages, so you should definitely think long and hard before considering this option. 

Direct Deposit

Make sure that your payments are direct deposited to your bank.  Starting in 2011 Social Security starting doing this…but if you don’t the government then sends you a debit card.  And every time that you go to a cash machine you end up paying fees to withdraw your money.

I have a friend who this happened to (he doesn’t trust anyone…even the government…with his banking information) and part of his Social Security check starting going to the banks in $1 and $2 increments, until he finally made the switch.

Ex-Spouse?

If you were married for 10 years or more, you may be eligible to claim part of the earnings of an ex-spouse as part of your own Social Security payout.  Restrictions apply but it is important to check this out, especially for women who were stay-at-home moms.

Note: Even if an ex-spouse were to make a claim against you it is does not affect your own payout from Social Security…it just adds to their payout.

Spousal Payments

Spouses are entitled to a Social Security payout of up to 50 percent of the higher earner's check if that amount is higher than benefits based on his or her own working record. 

This is very important to consider because a good portion of the women currently retiring were stay-at-home moms, as I mentioned above, meaning that these women wouldn’t be entitled to that much from Social Security based upon their own working record, but would benefit from the spousal payment.  So make sure to include that in any calculation of payments and benefits.

Using some of the tips and ideas above can allow you to stretch your retirement dollars and have a more fulfilling retirement.

About The Author:

Tony Rovere became an advocate for senior and their caregivers after his mother’s heart attack forced him to navigate the red tape and regulations that come with applying for government assistance for seniors.  His blog http://stuffseniorsneed.com/ is devoted to helping seniors and their caregivers by sharing all of the information that he has accumulated in aiding his mother.

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