The average monthly Social Security benefit is around $1,559. That's not enough to live on, and it will never be sufficient to serve as your only means of support as a retiree.
But you can maximize your benefit and hopefully get more than the average retiree does. There's a simple and easy way to squeeze 24% more out of your benefit check. Here's how to do it.
How to increase your Social Security check by 24%
To increase your Social Security check by 24%, there's one simple thing to do: Wait to claim your benefit until age 70.
This works if you have a full retirement age of 67, which is true for anyone who was born in 1960 or later. That's the age when you can file for retirement benefits and receive your primary insurance amount (PIA), the formal name of the standard benefit you earn through working and paying taxes.
You also have the option to file for benefits after FRA. And if you do, that's where the extra 24% comes in. Waiting earns you delayed retirement credits, worth a benefit boost equal to two-thirds of 1% for each month you wait -- an 8% annual increase. So if you wait three years from 67 to 70, you'd get a whopping 24% increase.
If your standard benefit was slated to be around the $1,559 monthly average, a 24% increase could net you an extra $374 per month or $4,489 per year. That's enough to pay a few months' rent or mortgage payments or cover food costs for most of the year for most seniors.
How to delay your benefit claim until 70
If you want to squeeze an extra 24% out of your Social Security checks, you need to be able to delay filing your benefits claim. To do that, you'll need to either:
- Work until 70: If you need Social Security benefits to survive, working until 70 could be the only way to put off your claim in order to earn your extra 24%. This can be a challenge, because there could be limited job opportunities for an older senior, or you may develop family or health issues that make continuing to work impossible.
- Save enough to live on: The other way to put off your benefits claim is to invest enough money that your retirement savings are sufficient to live on without Social Security until you reach 70. Make sure that you maintain a safe withdrawal rate, though, as draining your savings dry simply to put off your Social Security claim could be a decision you regret.
The reality is, a 24% boost is a huge increase to Social Security income. And you'll benefit from this added money for your entire retirement since these checks never stop. It's often worth the effort to try to get this extra cash.