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Increase Your Benefits

Start padding your Social Security income as early as possible. It will make a big difference when you need it.

The amount of your Social Security benefits depends on what you pay into the program. It entails more than just working a job and having taxes taken out every month. There are things you can do to increase the amount you receive by thousands of dollars over time.

It is important that you start padding your Social Security income as early in life as possible. It will make a big difference when you need it. This money, collected under your Social Security Number, will add to the amount you receive when you become old enough to start collecting it.

You may not remember but if you worked part time or took on a summer job while in high school, taxes were probably taken out of your check and paid into your Social Security account. And over the years, you may have worked part time in sales or you may have done other short term jobs that didn't pay that much.

Those little jobs can have a dramatic impact on the amount of Social Security income you receive when you retire. Every little bit of work you do and the Social Security taxes that are taken out of your check are added to your account to help you make your retirement years more comfortable.

Below is a list of 8 additional things that you can do to help increase the amount of your retirement income.

(1) Although you can start receiving Social Security at age 62, you can get the full dollar amount you are entitled if you wait until your full retirement age, which is 66 for most people born before 1960 and 67 for people born in 1961 or after. Your payments will be permanently reduced if you sign up before your full retirement age.

(2) Delayed Retirement Credits: If you delay claiming benefits past your normal retirement age, up until you reach age 70, your monthly benefits will increase 8% each year.

(3) Increase your income: This can be done by taking on a second job or by asking for a raise from your current employer. The more money taken for Social Security will add to the overall dollar amounts that are applied to your account.

(4) Work 35 years or longer: Social Security is calculated on 35 years of work. Benefits are averaged based on the highest amounts you earned within that 35 year period. If you haven't worked a full 35 years, zeros are added for the years you didn't work. If you had years in which your earnings were low, this will lower the overall amount you have in your Social Security account. In both scenarios, your benefits will drop. You can work more years to offset the zeros on your record and/or improve on the years that your earnings were low.

(5) If you work and claim Social Security benefits at the same time, if you earn too much, some of your benefits can be temporarily withheld. There are earning limits. It is important that you know and understand the rules that dictate the limits on working income while collecting payments from Social Security.

  • Note: Once you reach your full retirement age, there are no restrictions on how much you can earn while receiving benefits. Your payments will be recalculated to reflect the withheld payments.

(6) A person who has reached full retirement age may be able to claim spousal benefits and then later switch to payments based on their own work record, which will then be higher due to delayed claiming. This scenario is good for a retiree who has decided to wait until 70 to file a claim for benefits.

(7) Dependent children can be claimed if they are under 19 years of age, unmarried, or disabled. The child may be biological, adopted, or a stepchild. Each child may be able to collect a monthly payment that equals up to one half of your full retirement benefit.

(8) If you are a widow or widower and your spouse's benefits are higher than your own, you can collect your spouses benefits. You are eligible for the maximum survivor's benefits by waiting until the correct age before applying for them. the surviving spouse can take the higher of her own benefit or that of the dead spouse.

The Social Security Administration allows people to go online and check their earnings history and the amount of Social Security taxes that they have paid. It is important that you make sure that your information is reported correctly. Take the necessary steps to make sure that you are getting credit for all the taxes that you have paid into the system and that any discrepancies are corrected.

For more information on Social Security benefits, contact your local Social Security Administration Office or visit their web site at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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