Can You Get Money From Social Security if You’ve Never Paid Into It? How Benefits for a Spouse Work!

You might be eligible for more benefits than you think

For many retirees, Social Security benefits can be a lifeline, especially if their savings are running out.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit is around $1,657. In 2022, however, the maximum you can receive is $4,194 per month.

While making the maximum monthly payment isn’t easy, it doesn’t hurt to try. Here’s how to get the most out of your benefits.

1. Have you worked for at least 35 years?

The amount of your basic benefit is determined by your earnings over the course of your career. The Social Security Administration will take an average of your wages over your 35 highest-earning years and adjust it for inflation.

To receive the maximum benefit, you must have worked for at least 35 years. If you start claiming Social Security before then, your earnings average will be adjusted to account for the time you weren’t working, lowering your benefit amount.

2. Delay in applying for benefits

If you file at full retirement age, your earnings history will determine the amount you receive (FRA). However, the age at which you file your claim will affect the size of your monthly checks, and delaying benefits past your FRA will result in higher payments.

Can You Get Money From Social Security if You've Never Paid Into It How Benefits for a Spouse Work

You can apply for Social Security at the age of 62. However, the longer you wait (until you’re 70), the more money you’ll get each month.

You’ll have to wait until you’re 70 to file for the maximum $4,194 benefit. Even if you completed all of the other requirements to qualify for the maximum payouts, claiming at the age of 62 would only get you $2,364 per month.

3. Increase your earnings

When it comes to improving your benefits, your income throughout your career is likely the most essential piece of the equation.

To maximize your Social Security benefits, you must continuously hit the maximum taxable earnings limit, which is the highest amount of money subject to Social Security taxes.

This ceiling varies each year to account for inflation, but it will be $147,000 in 2022. The highest taxable earnings limit is 1987, if you started your profession 35 years ago, was $43,800.

What to do if you don’t qualify for the maximum benefit?

The maximum $4,194 monthly payment will be out of reach for most Americans. That doesn’t rule out taking actions to increase your benefits.

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Each of these three methods can improve your benefits on its own. Perhaps you don’t earn enough to hit the maximum taxable earnings limit and would rather not wait until you’re 70 to start receiving benefits. However, working for at least 35 years can result in greater paychecks.

Similarly, you may not be able to earn $147,000 per year to meet the earnings restriction, but you can increase your wages slightly.

This can also result in increased payments. Perhaps you don’t want to wait until you’re 70 to start receiving benefits, but you can wait until you’re 62. This might potentially increase your benefits by hundreds of dollars every month.

These three tactics can help you earn greater payments regardless of whether you can reach Social Security’s maximum benefit amount or not. You can make sure you get the most out of your retirement by planning ahead of time.