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9 tricks to get the most out of your benefits


There’s no shortage of life hacks. You can find, for instance, efficient ways to slice frozen butter or clean grout or fix flip-flops. The list goes on and on.

But what about Social Security? Are there ways for you to optimize your lifetime or monthly Social Security benefits? Are there hacks for what represents roughly 33% of a retiree’s total income, and even more for lower-income beneficiaries?

There sure are, say experts.

Earn income

Social Security calculates what’s called your average indexed monthly earnings for the 35 years in which you earned the most. Social Security applies a formula to those earnings and arrives at your basic benefit, or primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is how much you would receive at your full retirement age — 65 or older, depending on your date of birth.

Social Security calculates what’s called your average indexed monthly earnings for the 35 years in which you earned the most.

So, the key to increasing your monthly benefit is to replace the low-income years that are included in the 35-year calculation with higher-income years.

“Social Security rewards higher lifetime average earnings,” says Andy Landis, author of “Social Security: The Inside Story.”

“Increase your earnings per year or increase the years you work,” he says.

Be prepared:These 3 expenses can eat into your retirement savings



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