3 Things to Do Now to Help Get the Maximum Possible Social Security Benefit Later

Want a bigger Social Security benefit? Take these steps now so you can earn one in the future.

A larger Social Security check can make your retirement more secure. The benefits you get are guaranteed to last for life, unlike most sources of retirement funds. You also get periodic cost of living adjustments, which means that your income is protected against inflation. For all of these reasons, maximizing the Social Security checks you get makes good sense.

But how can you raise your Social Security payments? There are a few key steps you should take during your lifetime in order to do it. And the earlier you start, the better. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Earn as much money as you can

Social Security benefits are designed to replace about 40% of average wages, and your average wages are calculated based on the 35 years your earnings were the highest. So earning more money over the course of your career is going to make a profound impact on how much you receive from Social Security.

Let’s say for example that you’re 40 years old and your current salary is $40,000. Social Security estimates that your benefits if you retire at 67 in 2050 will be $1,717.00 per month. But if your current salary at age 40 is $90,000, your estimated future benefit in 2050 is $2,977.00.

Now, these are estimates based on assumptions of past and future earnings given your current salary. But you can see just how big of an impact earning a little more could have. So if you really want to boost your Social Security, earning a higher paycheck is one of the best ways to do it.

2. Keep tabs on your earning record

Social Security looks at your earnings record when calculating average benefits, so you better make sure that record is correct if you don’t want to lose out.

You can sign into your mySocialSecurity.gov account and check your earnings history. If you spot a mistake, deal with it ASAP while you still have plenty of paperwork to show what you earned.

Checking your record each year can help you to avoid problems later if it turns out an error was made but you don’t have documentation demonstrating your pay from decades ago.

3. Make a financial plan to put off claiming your benefits

Social Security benefits increase if you wait to claim them until after the earliest age of eligibility (which is 62). Each year you delay until 70, you’ll see a benefits increase — and often a substantial one. In our above example, if you were on track for a $2,977 benefit at 67 and you waited until 70 to claim your first Social Security check, you’d receive $3,712.00 per month instead.

Many people can’t work until 70, so if they want to delay claiming Social Security, they’ll need other retirement income to support them. If you hope to wait, be sure you’re saving enough that you can rely on your investment income for years before claiming benefits.

By taking these three steps now, you can get more Social Security income later so you can have more financial security as a retiree. It’s well worth making the effort ASAP, as the sooner you act, the bigger the impact on your future benefits.