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Are You Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits?


Social Security is enormously complex, and your lifetime payouts can vary by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending upon your filing decisions. With so much at stake, it is imperative to plan ahead to maximize your benefits.


Background


You become eligible to collect Social Security benefits when you turn 62; however, it is often in your best long-term interest to delay collecting your benefits for a few years. Full retirement age (FRA) is not reached until age 66 or 67, depending on the year you were born; and your benefits are reduced by as much as 30% if you begin collecting Social Security benefits before FRA. On the other hand, delaying collection until after FRA increases your benefits by 8% per year, up to a maximum of 132% of your full retirement benefit. Your individual situation, including life expectancy, must be carefully analyzed to determine the most advantageous time to begin drawing Social Security benefits.


Spousal benefit


There are opportunities to receive benefits from another's work record through spousal benefits (ex-spouses and deceased spouses can be considered in some cases). Under the spousal benefit, one spouse may be able to collect up to 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefits. If one spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits (i.e., has reached FRA), then the other may begin receiving a spousal benefit once he or she turns 62.
One potentially advantageous option is the "file and suspend" strategy. Under this strategy, when the working spouse has reached FRA, he or she can file for Social Security benefits but immediately suspend collection. The other spouse can then claim the spousal benefit at age 62 while the working spouse continues to earn additional credit and increases his or her future benefits. This is just one general example of many benefit maximization strategies that may be available.


How we can help


As there is risk of leaving money on the table if the optimal filing decisions are not made, Social Security planning is critical to maximize your lifetime benefits. Our highly knowledgeable team can analyze your specific circumstances and recommend strategies for maximized payouts. Please contact us to learn more about your Social Security options and how we can help.