Your Social Security payment amount is determined by how much you earn while working and when you choose to begin receiving payments. Married people are also eligible for spousal and survivor’s payments. Did you know there are multiple strategies you can use to increase the amount you’ll receive in retirement? Here’s how to get the highest Social Security payment you can qualify for.

Working at least 35 years and earning a high salary is a great start. Social Security payments are calculated using your 35 highest-earning years in the workforce. If you don’t work for at least 35 years, zeros are factored into the calculation and reduce your payments. Even a low-earning year is better than having a zero averaged in. The more you earn and pay into Social Security up to the taxable maximum of $132,900 in 2019, the higher your retirement payments will be. Additionally, working an extra year, even after you retire, could increase your future payments if you now earn more than you did earlier in your career.

Although it’s not exhaustive, the following list of common and uncommon Social Security planning strategies can help some people maximize their immediate and overall Social Security benefits.

  • Estimate your longevity. The most effective Social Security claiming strategy for you depends on how long you will live. If you have a major health issue, it can make sense to claim benefits as soon as possible (unless you want to leave a higher benefit to a surviving spouse). If you’re healthy and have parents who lived into their 90s, there’s a case to be made for delaying your benefits until 70, or later, in order to increase your annual and overall Social Security benefits.

  • Don’t claim before your full retirement age: People who sign up at age 62 receive 30% less income than they would at their Full Retirement Age (FRA) of 67.

  • Consider not claiming until age 70: If you delay taking your Social Security past your FRA you will increase your income by 8 percent for each year of delay up to age 70. 

  • Suspend payments: If you’ve started receiving Social Security benefits, it’s not too late to boost your payments. Social Security recipients between FRA and age 70 can suspend Social Security payments. This will increase your income by 8 percent annually for each year you hold off up to age 70.

  • Pay back your benefit: If you change your mind within 12 months of signing up for Social Security, you can withdraw your application and repay all of the money you’ve received, without interest. Then, you can reapply for Social Security at a later date, and you will receive an increased income payout. 

  • Claim spousal payments: Married people are eligible to claim Social Security benefits of up to 50 percent of their spouse’s benefit, if that amount is higher than their own Social Security payout. 

  • Additional Strategies: Some other options allow you to include family members and maximize survivor’s payments.

We’d be honored to help you review your Social Security strategies to identify the best solution for your situation. Contact us for your complimentary consultation to make the most of your Social Security solutions.

Back to Retirees