Maximize Social Security Benefits

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Too many people end up getting less than what’s due to them from Social Security when they retire because they don’t know the rules and the real financial impacts, says independent retirement advisor and CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors Gary Marriage, Jr.

“There’s a lot of talk about the future of Social Security, but we still have this benefit, and if you’re 50 or older, you should be planning to make the best use of it,” Marriage says.

Waiting May Be the Best Option

Many people are understandably eager to retire as early as possible; others fear Social Security retirement benefits will suddenly vanish, so they want to get what they can as quickly as possible – at age 62.

But if you’re counting on those benefits as part of your income, you should wait until you’re eligible for the full amount. That’s age 66 if you were born between 1943-54, and age 67 if you were born in 1960 and later.

The average retirement benefit in June of this year was 1,222.43, according to the Social Security Administration. People born in the 1943-54 group who are eligible for that amount at age 66 will get just $916.82 a month if they retire at 62. If they live to age 90, that’s a total of $308,052.36. Waiting until age 70 can make retirees eligible for a bump in benefits – up to 8 percent a year – but there are no increases if you delay longer.

Divorce May Not Eliminate Spousal Benefits

If you are divorced, were you married for a decade and aren’t currently remarried? You may be eligible to receive benefits based on the former spouse’s work record.

Here are some of the other requirements: you must be age 62 or older, and the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own benefits. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit. Additionally, two years must pass after the divorce.

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