OC Elder Law
How to Boost Your Social Security Benefits
Social Security checks and benefits are paid out in monthly dividends to retired workers who have contributed to the Social Security system. Social Security checks are available to qualified individuals who are also permanently disabled or are determined by a criteria issued by the Social Security Administration.
Depending on the level of income, these benefits may be taxable. Social Security is actually a face lift to the old Survivors and Disability Insurance. Former President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, with the law taking several amendments throughout its lifetime, with it now encompassing several social insurances and social welfare programs, including Social Security benefits entitled to retired citizens.
For those who are interested in the estimation of their Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration has an online tool that allows workers to estimate their total benefits. The tool is best suited for workers, the elderly, and not for those who are currently receiving Social Security checks or are the beneficiaries of Medicare. This approximation tool can help those who are reaching retirement age and are looking to strategize.
Boosting Social Security Checks
Obtaining and securing your Social Security checks is complex. It’s essential that you do not take this decision lightly, as it can impact your golden years, post-retirement. Certain strategies can help maximize savings, and there are also many common pitfalls that some may fall for.
Note that each year that you defer your Social Security benefits past the typical retirement age, the benefits will increase roughly 8%, until the age of 70. This process is called “delayed retirement credits.” In the case of a spousal death, the surviving member can take their own benefit, or that of the deceased partner. So if there is a scenario where the breadwinner passes and claims early, then they have effectively shortchanged the benefits that will be allocated to the surviving member.
It’s important to maximize the Social Security benefits over both spouses’ lives. The File and Suspend strategy can help boost your Social Security checks. With this strategy, the breadwinner plans to delay the benefits until the age of 70. Once they are eligible to secure Social Security benefits — which is roughly around 66 years of age — they will go and suspend it. This way the benefit amount keeps increasing thanks to delayed retirement credits. But since he made the initial claim to start the benefits, the spouse that is currently in the retirement age can register a “restricted” application to declare spousal benefits. Spousal benefits are up to 50% of the other spouse’s monthly benefit. When enacted correctly, the File and Suspend strategy can help a couple secure an additional $60,000.
When the breadwinner reaches the full retirement age, they can inform the Social Security that rather than registering for benefits, they would like to restrict his benefits to his wife’s record. If there’s a change of heart, the breadwinner can switch over to their own benefit anytime. That couple could receive an additional $42,000 from the breadwinner actually claiming spousal benefits. It’s important to note that if you are going to use this strategy to boost Social Security checks and associated benefits, that the partner who registers a restricted application must be in retirement age — they cannot do so earlier in their working years.
Strategic planning and avoiding to claim benefits early can help extend its service to you during your golden years. Social Security aspects are coming from a limited pool, and strategic planning has become something only savvy retirees have done, to something that has become a necessity.