Maximizing Social Security Benefits

The Social Security System offers a great benefit for taxpayers who paid into the system over the years. Unfortunately, it can be a little confusing if you haven’t had time to do a little research into available Social Security Benefits. This should not discourage recipients from learning as much as possible about the benefits which they are entitled to receive.  Failure to understand the system could cost you money at a time when you can least afford the loss.  Here we look at tips to increase social security benefits and make it easier in retirement years.

How to Increase Social Security Benefits

How to increase Social Security BenefitsPay attention to Social Security Statements. Over the years you have probably noticed an annual social security statement arriving in your mailbox.  It is important to pay attention to the information contained on this statement.  Carefully review your statement each year to ensure the earnings that have been reported are correct.  This history of your earnings play an important role in determining your Social Security benefits.  If you notice errors on the statement, it is your responsibility to report these mistakes to ensure the correct information is being used to determine your benefits. Correcting an error in your lifetime earnings could significantly increase social security benefits.

Age at retirement affects your benefits. Depending on when you were born the full retirement age is between 65 and 67 years of age.  Individuals may begin receiving benefits earlier (age 62) however it can reduce your benefits by up to 30%.  Whenever possible, holding off retirement until full retirement age is reached is in the best interest of your financial security in the future. Here is a full Social Security benefits chart by age. You will receive more money in the long run if you wait to take Social Security Benefits.

Military veterans are entitled to extra earnings. Servicemembers who have served on active duty between 1957 and 2001 are entitled to extra earnings that will boost their Social Security benefits.  It is important that men and women who have served during these periods check to make sure credits have been added to their record.  This happened automatically for military members who served between 1968 and 2001, but it is still a good idea to confirm you are receiving the full benefits for which you are entitled. Learn more about how military service affects Social Security Benefits.

Other areas of your personal finances are considered at tax time. The government has established income thresholds to determine who pays taxes on benefits and those who will not.  If half of your Social Security income, investment earnings, pension payments, tax-exempt interest and other wages surpass the threshold, you may find yourself owing taxes on benefits.  The thresholds are determined by your filing status and may result in you owing taxes on 50% – 85% of your benefits.

Avoid garnishments that reduce your benefits. As a general rule, Social Security benefits are protected from the majority of debt collection actions.  This is not the case with back taxes, outstanding federal student loans, child support and alimony.  If you have any of these debts lurking in your past, take the necessary steps to satisfy your debt obligations to protect your benefits from garnishments.

When you understand how your benefits work and what you can do to increase your Social Security paycheck.  For many retirees this paycheck may be the only form of income they will receive during their retirement years.  Whether Social Security is your only source of income or a supplement to other sources of income, it is important that you get the benefits to which you are entitled.

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Date published: November 16, 2010. Last updated: August 9, 2012.

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Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. James Yow says

    I receive VA disability, will this affect social security . I”ll be 62 this year,thinking about going ahead with social security

    • says

      James, I don’t believe it will affect your Social Security benefits, but I am not an expert on these matters. You should be able to contact someone at the Social Security Administration to get a definitive answer, which is what I recommend doing. Best of luck and thanks for your service!

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