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Keys to Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

You have worked hard all of your life.  You have raised a beautiful family that you are proud of, and you and your spouse are finally ready to enjoy your golden years together.  And yes, you have also planned and saved for these future retirement years.  Maybe you planned many years ago or maybe you planned just recently; but either way, you probably factored in the boost offered from your future Social Security benefits.

Whatever the boost might be, wouldn’t you rather maximize those benefits if possible?  If the answer is a resounding “YES”, then you want to learn about the various claiming strategies, and fully discuss them with your financial advisor.  The proper strategy can amplify your lifetime Social Security benefits significantly.

An example of one strategy is waiting as long as possible to start claiming your Social Security benefits.  The earliest age that a retiree can start claiming these benefits is 62 years old.  However, did you know that once you reach your full retirement age (between 65 -67), your Social Security benefits increase by 8% each year plus inflation adjustments?  The amount of money claimed increases considerably just by waiting a little longer.

But are there claiming strategies that can optimize your Social Security benefits even if you need to start collecting at an earlier age?  The answer is “Yes”.  Advantageous strategies can be applied to this situation as well when you know how to maneuver through the claiming process.  You just need the proper expertise to guide you through the rules.  Once you know these rules and know how to navigate confidently through the claiming process, you can apply a strategy that works in your favor and maximizes this money.

Some of these claiming strategies involve the idea of spousal benefits.  Here, spousal benefits can be applied to a “Restricted Spousal” strategy as well as a “File and Suspend” strategy.  According to Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA of Forbes Advisor Network, “File and Suspend allows for the lower wage earner to increase his or her benefits by adding the Spousal Benefit, while the higher wage earner continues to delay his or her benefit, adding the delay credits.”

On the other hand, the Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits “provides one spouse or the other with the option of collecting a Spousal Benefit, while at the same time delaying his or her own retirement benefit.”  All and all, any couple must carefully consider the particular rules pertaining to these strategies in order to determine the appropriate strategy that applies to their specific situation.

Overall, these claiming strategies can cushion your retirement years with thousands of dollars but the rules behind these strategies can be complex and meticulous.  Even the employees at the national and local Social Security offices cannot give any advice; therefore, it’s best to seek the help of a financial advisor who has an in-depth knowledge of the best Social Security strategies for retirees.

The world today is very different: life expectancy has increased, pensions have dwindled, medical costs have increased, and the economy remains uncertain.  Especially now, maximizing your Social Security benefits is necessary because these are unfavorable conditions.  So, make certain that you fully learn and understand the rules of each strategy before you choose it.