How To Get the Largest Social Security Checks

Posted on: April 7th, 2010 by

Accountant - Rockville, MDYou can start collecting Social Security as early as age 62, however, this is not the most financially savvy move to make.  You could suffer a reduction of benefits of 25% or more for the rest of your life.  But if you continue to work past the normal age of retirement, you could be running up against the cap in which you can be penalized for earning too much.  You should try to retire at the normal age, as provided by the Social Security Administration, which, at this point in time is 66.

Second, marriage has its perks.  If, for example, your husband has higher lifetime earnings than you and you are ready to retire, but he’s not, all he has to do is file and suspend.  This means that you can collect your share, while he waits to collect benefits until later, when they will be worth more.  If the you have comparable incomes, though, there is another strategy that you can employ to boost your household income.  If one spouse wants to stop working earlier than the other, one spouse can retire and the other can claim spousal benefits only on the retired spouse’s record and wait until normal retirement age to collect their own, qualifying for the maximum benefits.

You also may be able to collect on your former spouse’s benefits as long as you were married at least 10 years and are 62 or older.  If your ex-spouse dies, you are entitled to a monthly survivor benefit (even if he or she remarried) equal to 100% of what your ex received during his or her lifetime (assuming that it is higher than your benefit amount, as you cannot collect 2 checks).

Lastly, if you started collecting Social Security and wish you had waited in order to get a higher benefit, the government will allow you to hit the re-do button.  You just have to pay back everything you have received, the government won’t charge you interest, and request a refund on the taxes you paid on that money (I recommend speaking to an accountant if you do this).  In essence, this strategy is allowing you to take an interest-free loan from the government.  Once you have paid the money back, the SS Administration will restart your benefits at a new, higher rate.  Speaking to a financial adviser before doing this is advisable because it could take up to 8-10 years to recoup your investment.



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