Three Things I’m Doing Right Now to Ensure I Receive a Sizable Social Security Check in Retirement


I have more than 30 years until I can even consider applying for Social Security, but that does not mean it is not on my mind. I understand that the choices I make now will affect the size of future checks, and I’m doing everything I can to get the most out of the program. Here are three steps I’m taking to ensure that I continue to receive substantial Social Security benefits in the future.

1. Maintaining employment

I’ve already worked for a period of time sufficient to qualify for Social Security. I’ve earned over 40 credits thus far in my career, with one credit equaling $1,510 in 2022 earnings and a maximum of four credits per year. That is not to say, however, that I have nothing to gain by continuing to work.

Social Security Benefits


Apart from the fact that I require employment to meet my financial obligations, continuing to work increases my future Social Security benefit. This is because the government calculates your benefit based on your average monthly income over the 35 years of your highest earnings, adjusted for inflation.

If I were to stop working immediately, I could still claim a Social Security benefit once I reached the age of 62, but it would be quite small. I haven’t worked 35 years yet, and as a result, I’d have a lot of years with no income, which would drag down my average monthly income. By continuing to work, I am able to replace those years of no income with profitable years, increasing my average benefit.

I may even work for a longer period of time than 35 years. If I do this, I will replace some of my earlier working years earning minimum wage as a cashier in a grocery store with my more recent, higher-earning years as a freelance writer.

2. I’m attempting to maintain a healthy income.

Given that Social Security benefits are calculated on the basis of your earnings during your working years, I’m doing everything I can to keep my income high today. As a freelance writer, I have slightly more control over my earnings than the average employee does. However, there are still ways for traditional employees to increase their earnings.

Extensive research indicates that working overtime or negotiating a raise can help. Likewise, switching employers is an option if you discover a company willing to pay you more. Additionally, if you have some spare time and a skill or service to offer, you could start a side hustle.

3. I’m saving significantly for retirement on my own, in order to afford deferring Social Security benefits.

Even though I am eligible to claim Social Security at the age of 62, I am unlikely to do so until I reach the age of 70. This means skipping eight years of checks, but as a reward for doing so, my checks will be larger when I sign up at age 70.

Not everyone is aware, but the government assigns a full retirement age (FRA) to each individual based on their birth year. It ranges between 66 and 67 for today’s workers. If you want the full benefit based on your work history, you’re supposed to wait until this age to enroll. Each month that benefits are claimed prior to your FRA reduces your checks slightly, while each month that benefits are delayed increases your checks.

My FRA is 67, and if I wait until I am 70, I will receive 124% of my full benefit per check. If I qualified for the current average monthly Social Security benefit of $1,665, I would receive approximately $2,065 per month at age 70. However, if I claim immediately at age 62, I will receive only 70% of my full benefit per check, or approximately $1,166 per month.

I expect to live into my 80s or 90s, so even though delaying Social Security will result in fewer years of benefits, I will likely receive more money overall. Claiming a $2,065 benefit for 15 years would result in a $371,700 lifetime benefit. That’s about $50,000 more than the $321,816 I would receive for 23 years of claiming a $1,166 benefit.


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However, deferring benefits is not always a good idea. And even those who wish to do so occasionally struggle to pay their bills in the early years of retirement without the assistance of Social Security. That is why I am currently saving as much money as possible for retirement. I want a sizable nest egg so that I can cover all of my basic expenses and defer Social Security until I’m ready.

Because each person is unique, my Social Security strategy may not work for you. However, if you haven’t already considered when you’d like to claim or how you can increase your benefits, now is the time.

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