Often, taxpayers apply for Social Security, see the benefit they are owed, and then forget about it. However, one expert contends that Social Security is an untapped source of wealth that can be tapped if you play the system correctly.
Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and a Social Security expert, writes in this new book, “There are many ways to turn your lifetime Social Security benefits into a treasure trove,” according to CNBC.
According to the author of “Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life,” Social Security may be the “largest source of retirement funds” that you are overlooking.
One of the most compelling arguments he makes is that, in addition to their regular monthly social security benefit check, there are available benefits that many people are unaware of.
You can receive disability benefits, spousal benefits, divorced spousal benefits, child-in-care spousal benefits, widow/widower benefits, child benefits, disabled child benefits, mother/father benefits, divorced widow/widower benefits, parent benefits, grandchild benefits, and death benefits, according to Kotlikoff.
The main issue for the majority of people is that they simply do not apply for them. These types of benefits must be applied for, which means that even if you are eligible, you will not receive them automatically from Social Security, even if you are entitled to them.
Spousal benefits are a good example of this. As previously reported by GOBankingRates, spousal benefits can increase your monthly benefit by up to $800 per month. This is a huge deal for many seniors. Spousal benefits entitle you to social security benefits based on your spouse’s earnings record (if their earnings were higher.) This means you can continue to receive both your own and your spouse’s benefits. The catch is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and you won’t get anything unless you apply.
Aside from applying for all of the different types of benefits available, the timing in which you claim benefits has a significant impact on the total amount of benefits you receive.
Kotlikoff emphasizes that waiting until you are 70 years old is ideal for maximizing your benefits. The earliest you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is at the age of 62, but you will receive a smaller check if you do so. According to the Social Security Administration, starting retirement at the age of 62 can result in a 30% decrease in your monthly check.
The longer you wait, the more money you get each month, and if you wait until you reach the maximum distribution age of 70, you will get the maximum Social Security benefit for your record.
It is important to note that the total amount of money distributed over the course of a lifetime will be roughly the same, but if you prefer a larger monthly check later on versus a larger number of smaller ones earlier, waiting to claim benefits is the better option.