For many seniors, Social Security benefits are a lifeline, so getting the most out of them makes sense.
According to the Social Security Administration, the average retiree receives roughly $1,657 per month in benefits, but the highest you may get in 2022 is a stunning $4,194 per month.
While striving for the maximum benefit amount isn’t a terrible idea, most individuals find it unrealistic. To get the most out of your benefits, you’ll have to fulfill various standards, some of which are quite tough to accomplish.
The good news is that whether you can attain the maximum benefit amount or not is irrelevant. There are simpler ways to improve your Social Security benefits, regardless of your income.
HOW DO YOU GET TO THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNT?
Working for at least 35 years, delaying benefits, and regularly exceeding the maximum taxable earnings limit are the three key prerequisites for obtaining the maximum Social Security benefit amount.
1. Work for at least 35 years: The Social Security Administration determines your benefits by averaging your wages over your 35 highest-earning years. To be eligible for the maximum benefit amount, you must have worked for 35 years.
2. Benefits of Delay: You can apply for benefits as early as age 62, but to collect the most money each month, you’ll have to wait until you’re 70.
3. To reach the maximum taxable income limit, you must: This is the maximum amount of money that is taxed by Social Security. This ceiling varies year to year to accommodate for inflation, but it will be $147,000 in 2022. To receive the maximum benefit, you must have continuously exceeded these restrictions during your employment.
You’re not alone if you can’t satisfy all three of these conditions. The vast majority of Americans will not be able to get the maximum benefit amount, which is fine. There are still lots of methods to boost your benefits, fortunately.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SOCIAL PROTECTION
To get the biggest payments, you’ll need to work for at least 35 years, defer benefits until you’re 70, and make at least $147,000 every year. If you can’t meet all three of those goals, getting near will still result in a higher monthly payment.
For example, if you don’t earn enough to exceed the maximum taxable earnings limit, you can postpone benefits until you’re 70 years old. That alone might increase your monthly payments by hundreds of dollars.
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Maybe you don’t want to wait until you’re 70 to claim Social Security, but you can start claiming at 65. When compared to filing at age 62, this will also result in higher payouts.
Some folks may not be able to postpone benefits at all, which is OK. Even if your salary isn’t close to the $147,000 per year cap, you can still raise your benefits by working a few more years (even if you haven’t worked the whole 35 years).
SMALL ACTIONS CAN HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT
The most significant point here is that taking even minor steps to boost your benefits may pay off big time in the long run. Even if you aren’t on schedule to get the maximum benefit amount, you can still raise your payments as much as you like.