If you want to have a comfortable retirement, increasing the size of your Social Security check may be a priority. While you will always require savings in addition to your monthly retirement benefit to maintain financial security, supplementing your Social Security income makes sense because this source of income is guaranteed for life.
However, how can you actually increase your Social Security benefits? There are several techniques to try, including these three surprising ways to increase your benefits.
1. Strive aggressively to increase your salary throughout your career.
Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on the income you earn during your working years. As a result, increasing your income increases the amount of your benefit. The more money you earn and the sooner you earn it, the larger your benefits will be.
This means you should make every effort to increase earnings. Several steps to take include the following:
- When you begin a new job, negotiate your starting salary.
- Participating in management development and other career advancement programs at your place of employment
- During annual performance reviews, requesting a salary increase
- Employing overtime in order to increase your pay
- Working a part-time job
- Investigating new employment opportunities as they become available
- Increasing your income by developing your career skills
- The more of these strategies you employ, the greater your earnings should grow and the greater your retirement benefits.
2. Worked for more than 35 years
Social Security benefits are not calculated on average earnings over the course of your career; rather, they are calculated on average earnings over the 35 years during which your inflation-adjusted earnings were the highest.
The majority of people will experience years throughout their careers when they do not earn a lot of money. For example, if you’re just starting out, your initial salary may be quite low. Alternatively, you may earn little over the course of a year if you are unemployed for a portion of the year or take unpaid leave for family or personal reasons.
If you work exactly 35 years, all of those low-wage years will be factored into the calculation of average wages. As a result, your benefit payments will be reduced. If you work less than 35 years, your situation will be even worse, as years of zero wages will be factored into the calculation of your average wage. However, if you earn more later in life and work for more than 35 years, each additional year can compensate for a year of lower earnings earlier in life. This will result in an increase in the average wage and benefits.
3. Calculate when you should file for benefits.
Finally, you should plan ahead for when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. You can apply for benefits between the ages of 62 and 70. Monthly checks for earlier claims are smaller, while checks for later claims are larger.
If you believe you will outlive your life expectancy, you may be better off delaying benefits claims as long as possible. You’d receive so many large checks later in life, once your payments begin, that you’d more than compensate for the payments you missed earlier due to your delay.
However, if you believe you will die at a young age, beginning checks early is preferable. Otherwise, your lifetime income would be reduced. You may die before receiving any payments, or you may receive only a few checks in the future and fall short of breaking even on the payments you forfeited as a result of your delayed claim.
By following these three steps, you can increase your lifetime Social Security benefits and end up with more retirement benefits than you would have received otherwise. That is well worth your time and effort.