Many Americans will end up relying on Social Security to help pay their bills in retirement.
They may even need those benefits to provide the bulk of their income later in life.
As such, it’s important to read up on how Social Security works, and how to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
Here are a few pieces of inside info that could help you score a higher benefit check.
1. You can undo your filing and claim benefits again later
You’re entitled to your full monthly benefit, based on your wage history, once you reach full retirement age, which kicks in at 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on the year you were born. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) will allow you to start collecting benefits as early as age 62, albeit at a reduced rate for life.
Some people wind up filing at 62 because they need the money or fear that if they don’t claim their benefits, they’ll somehow lose out on them. But if you file for Social Security early and regret it later, you do have the option to undo your filing. As long as you withdraw your application for benefits within a year and repay the SSA all the money it paid you, you’ll get a chance to file a new claim later on, thereby securing a higher monthly benefit.
2. You can collect a benefit even if you never worked
You might assume that if you don’t have your own earnings history, you won’t be eligible for Social Security once you retire. Actually, if you’re married to someone who’s entitled to a benefit, or are divorced from someone in that same boat, you may be eligible for a spousal benefit. Your spousal benefit is worth up to 50% of the benefit your current or former spouse collects, which could translate into quite a bit of retirement income for you.If you’re married, you can only claim a spousal benefit once your spouse files for Social Security. But if you’re divorced, you don’t need to wait for your ex-spouse to claim a benefit.
3. You can avoid taxes on your benefits by choosing the right retirement plan
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