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Are You Making These Devastating Mistakes With Your Social Security?

You want to receive every single Social Security dollar you’re entitled to during your golden years. Unfortunately, many people make easily reversible mistakes with their Social Security benefits, which can lead to collecting less money. Fortunately, you can use this guide to identify and reverse any errors pretty easily — and set yourself back on track for collecting everything you deserve in retirement.

Mistake 1: Not Working Enough

To collect Social Security, which you pay into out of your earnings, you have to receive at least 40 work credits. You can earn four credits per year when you make at least $6,560 annually — or you can earn one credit for every $1,640 if you make below that amount.

Correct your mistake: Look over your annual earnings dating back to the start of your career and make sure you have earned 40 credits before you retire.

Mistake 2: Not Calculating How Much You’ll Earn in Retirement

The federal government tallies your benefits due by averaging the salary you make during your 35 highest-earning income years. If you haven’t worked that long, then any years you didn’t work will be averaged as $0.

Correct your mistake: Do a bit of math and see what your average stands at now and how it might grow if you stay on the job a few more years. Most people earn more as their careers progress, and you may be at your peak earnings now — but if you retire early, you’ll get a few years of $0 in there, bringing down your career average.

Mistake 3: Claiming Benefits As Soon As You Can Get Them

Yes, it’s tempting to grab your benefits at age 62, as soon as you become eligible for Social Security. But you may pay for that in the long run. If your birthday falls after 1959 and you claim benefits at age 62, your award will be reduced by 30%. More concerning? They don’t rebound to full benefits when you hit 65. This decrease is permanent.

Correct your mistake: Don’t retire as soon as you can. Wait until at least 65 so you can claim full benefits. In fact, you may want to consider waiting until age 70, since you get up to 8% more per year for every year you put off retirement from age 65 to 70.

Mistake 4: Ignoring What Your Spouse Earned

While your own earnings record is critical to what you can claim through Social Security, you may also be eligible for benefits claimed through a spouse or even an ex-spouse, if you were married for at least 10 years. That’s because the government recognizes the nonmonetary contributions of a spouse if, say, you stayed home with the kids while your spouse worked.

Correct your mistake: Put off deciding how to claim benefits until you have looked at your spouse or ex-spouse’s record and how much you may be entitled to receive.

Mistake 5: Forgetting About Taxes

Keep in mind that the majority of your Social Security benefits (up to 85%) could be taxed. The rate depends on your combined income.

Correct your mistake: Use smart tax planning to avoid getting hit with an unexpectedly hefty tax bill.

Want to learn more ways to optimize your retirement savings? Reach out to Jay today to discuss your unique financial situation.


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