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3 Easy Ways to Get More Money From Social Security

Whether you kick off your golden years with a modest amount of savings or no savings at all, you’ll want to get the most money possible out of Social Security. These simple steps will help you boost your benefits and enjoy a higher retirement income stream for life.

1. Work at least 35 years

Your Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest-paid years of wages. But not everyone works a full 35 years. Some people take time off to raise children. Others leave the workforce to travel, care for loved ones, or recover from injuries or illnesses. If you don’t have a full 35 years of work under your belt, extending your career could give your benefits a much-needed boost. In doing so, you’ll replace the $0 you’d otherwise get in your benefits equation for each year without an income with an actual salary, thereby bringing up your average wage over that 35-year period.

Furthermore, it often pays to work more than 35 years if your goal is to grow your benefits. The reason? If you’re making more money later on in life than you did earlier in your career, you can replace some years of lower earnings with higher earnings, thereby boosting your average wage to bring up your total benefit.

2. Delay benefits past your full retirement age

Though your Social Security benefits are based on your work history, you’re not eligible to claim them in full until you reach full retirement age. That age, depending on your year of birth, is either 66, 67, or somewhere in between.

Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration will let you take benefits as early as age 62, but in doing so, you’ll reduce them in the process. At the same time, you can also delay benefits past full retirement age and boost them by 8% a year up until age 70. This means that if you’re entitled to $1,500 a month at a full retirement age of 67, waiting until 70 to claim your benefits will give you $1,860 a month instead — for life.

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