In January 2022, the average monthly social security pension check was $ 1,661 – equivalent to about $ 20,000 a year. It is clearly not enough to support most of us comfortably in retirement. You will Collect more if you have earned more than average over the course of your working life, but it is still likely to be far less than you would like.
Fortunately, we can increase social security income by saving and investing in our working years. We can also use some strategies to increase our potential benefits. Here are three.
1. Claim for spousal benefit
Many people are not aware that spousal benefits exist, but they do – and they can be a gift to many people, such as those who have earned little or nothing during their working years (perhaps due to staying home and look after children) or those who have earned far less than their spouse.
Spouse benefits from social security can provide up to 50% of the benefit your spouse is entitled to charge at their full retirement age (which is 66 or 67 for most of us these days). The rules can be a little tricky, so be sure to read up on them if the prospect of spousal benefits is attractive.
Generally, you can not collect until you are 62 years old, you have been married for at least a year, and your spouse has started collecting.
Spouse services are even available for divorced spouses, depending on a few criteria. For example, you must have been married for at least 10 years, been divorced for at least two years and not remarried.
2. Increase your income
Another way to increase your social benefits is to simply earn more. You may not think it is possible, but it may be more possible than you think. To begin with, you have asked for a raise at work lately? A PayScale.com report from 2018 noted that 70% of the workers surveyed who had asked for a pay rise received one – and 39% even got the amount they asked for.
You can also increase your salary by finding a new, better paid position. Earning an additional certification or degree can also help entitle you to higher pay.
Another strategy is to add a side appearance or two to your routine. There are countless possibilities. An obvious one is simply to secure a regular part-time job next door. If you can earn e.g. $ 16 pr. hour of 10 additional hours per week, it is $ 160 per. week (before tax) – more than $ 8,000 per. year. Other options include making and selling things online or offline, things like soaps, jewelry, sweaters, candles and even furniture. You can teach children school subjects or give children or adults music or language lessons. Drive for a carpooling service. Be a dog walker or cat sitter.
Here is one last income-increasing strategy to increase your social security benefits: The formula is used to determine your benefits in the average of your earnings from the 35 years in which you earned the most (adjusted for inflation). So once you have 35 years on your back, if you earn more (on an inflation-adjusted basis) than you have in the past, every extra year you work will exclude your lowest earning year from the calculation, increasing your benefit.
3. Claim your benefits early – or late
Finally, you can make your benefits bigger or smaller by starting charging them sooner or later than your full retirement age. You can start as early as 62 years and as late as 70 years. For every year you defer, your benefits will increase by about 8%. So a delay from 67 to 70 will increase this benefit by about 24%. It’s clearly a good way to get more out of social security – but only if you live a longer life than average. The system is designed so that those who live average long lives will earn approximately the same total benefits, regardless of when they start collecting. (After all, those who collect later will receive fewer checks.)
For some people, a less obvious way to get more out of the program is to start collecting your benefits early. This can be a smart move if you are not in good health or many of your relatives have not lived long lives. For example, if you have a good chance of dying around the age of 75, starting at age 62 will give you checks for 13 years – as many as 156 of them – whereas starting at your full retirement age of 67 will give you only eight years checks. They would be bigger than if you had waited until age 67, but you would only receive about 96 of them.
These are some strategies you may want to consider to increase your social security checks if necessary. To create additional retirement income for yourself, make sure you also save up and invest for your retirement.