There are complicated rules that govern Social Security. Although there are some retirees who start collecting their benefits as soon as possible, there are those who still can’t decide when to start and why.
In case you’re wondering, most elderly beneficiaries get around 50% or more of their income from Social Security. To maximize your benefits, here are some tips you have to consider:
1. Wait Until You Reach FRA
FRA, or Full Retirement Age, is at 66 years of age for those born between 1943 and 1954, while 67 for those within 1960 above. Even though it’s possible to collect your benefits as early as 62, the amount you can get is permanently reduced by 25%. To get the most of your Social Security, it means you will need to wait until you reach 67.
2. Apply through the Social Security Disability Program
If you are disabled, physically or mentally, you can acquire benefits through the Social Security Disability Law. There are actually two programs available for this. One is the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI), and the other is Supplemental Security Income Program (SSIP). However, to qualify for the program via the disability law, you need to incur an impairment that can last for at least 12 months.
3. Delay Your Collections
One obvious tactic to boost your Social Security benefits is delaying your collections. For every year above your FRA that you delay (up to 70), you can gain an 8% increase in your benefits. This means that delaying your collections from 67 to 70 will allow you to receive 24% more benefits!
However, delaying means you won’t be able to receive benefits throughout those years you delayed collection. So if you delay from 67 to 70, you’re missing out on three years’ worth of payments.
4. Take Advantage of Spousal Benefits
Social Security isn’t only about retirements. In fact, if your spouse dies, you can be able to claim survivor benefits as long as you’re at least 60 years old. If you wait until FRA, you can even receive up to 100% of the deceased spouse’s benefits! This also makes your children eligible as long as they reach 17 years of age. A lot of divorcees don’t know that they can actually claim benefits according to their ex-spouse’s income, regardless if their ex has remarried or not.
5. Assess Your Current Health Condition
If you believe your life expectancy might not be long, you should start receiving Social Security benefits as soon as possible. Even though delaying your collections until 70 can increase your benefits, it might not make sense if you won’t live long enough.
In most cases, delaying your payments until you reach 70 years old is not a viable choice. After all, the average life expectancy has become shorter than it was years ago. If you are experiencing a number of health issues, you might start collecting your Social Security once you reach 62. However, if you believe your health is still in top shape, delaying them above your FRA can make a huge difference.