You work hard for your Social Security benefits, generally at least 10 years in the workforce, but to get full value you’d ultimately have to work at least 35 years. That’s a lot of years.
Isn’t it time Social Security worked for you? While ultimately your retirement benefit will be based on how much you earned over a lifetime, there are ways to make Social Security work for you. From methods such as delaying your claim, allowing your benefit to grow, or taking advantage of an online request for a replacement ID card, let’s take a closer look at the tactics you can use to get the most out of your benefits.
1. Find out how you’re doing
As you prepare for retirement, don’t guess how much monthly income you can count on. Find out. You can get a decent estimate of the size of your Social Security retirement check by going to the agency’s retirement estimator page. Enter some information about yourself to get an idea of what you may expect at 62, at full retirement age, and at age 70. For a more detailed estimate – based on your actual, reported lifetime earnings – sign up for a my Social Security account. You can even verify if the information Social Security has on you is accurate.
2. Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow
Sure you can tap into your retirement benefits as early as age 62, but you’ll take a reduced benefit. By that, we mean you’ll receive a smaller monthly check than you would have if you had waited until your full retirement age (FRA), which is about 65 to 67, depending on your year of birth. That reduction can be big. Someone with an FRA at 67 who takes benefits at 62 would receive a benefit that is 30% less than it would have been at 67. If you can wait to claim, you get a “raise” in the form of a higher monthly benefits, up to an 8% increase for each year you wait, up to age 70.
3. Get secure
When dealing with Social Security through your my Social Security account, you have the option of adding a second method of identification, something that goes beyond a password that could be compromised. Any time you log in to your account using a password, you’ll receive a confirmation code to your cell phone or email address. It’s one extra step to protect your personal information. And if you suspect fraud, you can go to your account and block electronic access.
4. Get a replacement card
For many Americans, losing a Social Security card doesn’t have to be a hassle. Residents living in 24 states (and the list has been growing) can log in to their my Social Security account and request a replacement.
5. Find out exactly how long you will live
Well, not exactly. Nobody can tell you that. But as you prepare a retirement strategy, it makes sense to consider how long you may live beyond retirement. Social Security reports a man age 65 today can expect to live past 84. For a woman, it’s even higher: 86. The agency has a life expectancy calculator that, while fairly simple, can be a good reminder to think long term when preparing for retirement.
Bonus: Social Security Matters is a blog from the agency that provides regular updates and reminders on topics from security to regulatory and benefit changes. You can have it delivered via email by signing up online.
What additional steps have you taken to make the most of your Social Security dollars? Share them with our Wealth Meet Health community.
Things to Consider:
- Social Security’s website, SSA.gov, is easy to navigate and filled with interesting, informative articles for workers of all ages.
- If you sign up for a my Social Security account at SSA.gov/myaccount, you can see the earnings data Social Security has collected on you, and you can calculate your anticipated retirement benefit.
- If you suspect fraud, you can block electronic access to your Social Security information.
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.