Seniors who retire on Social Security alone risk struggling financially for years on end. And given that the typical monthly benefit is only $1,667 right now, that makes sense.
Think about what your monthly bills look like now. Would $1,667 cover the bulk of them? If not, then it's in your best interest to try to get a lot more out of Social Security. And if you make these key moves, you just might.
1. Fight for higher wages
The Social Security benefit you're eligible for in retirement will be based on your earnings during your 35 most profitable years in the labor force. So an easy way to snag a higher monthly benefit is to constantly fight for higher wages. That means continuously looking at salary data for your industry (there's a lot available online) to make sure you're not underpaid and making a case for a pay boost when you have a big win on the job.
Keep in mind that many employers give out a yearly cost-of-living raise to account for inflation (kind of like how Social Security does) and call it a day. But if you want a higher retirement benefit, you'll want to negotiate your way to a more generous boost than that, especially if you can point to meaningful ways you've added value to your company.
2. Boost your income with a side hustle
It's not just salaried wages that count toward calculating Social Security benefits. Side hustle earnings count, too. If you're working a second gig, make sure to report that income -- not just to avoid trouble with the IRS but also to make sure it's factored into your future monthly benefit.
3. Don't file early
You're allowed to sign up for Social Security beginning at age 62. But if you claim benefits before reaching full retirement age (which is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later), you'll end up with less money each month. If you want to beat today's average benefit, make sure to wait until full retirement age to put in your claim.
4. Delay your filing as long as it makes sense
For each year you delay your Social Security filing beyond full retirement age, your monthly benefit gets an 8% boost. So if you're entitled to your full monthly benefit at age 67, but you hold off on collecting it until age 70, you'll end up growing that benefit by 24%.
Age 70 is the latest to benefit from a delayed filing. Beyond then, waiting to claim Social Security won't result in any sort of financial benefit. As such, don't plan to delay your filing indefinitely or well into your 70s. Rather, plan on claiming benefits as soon as your 70th birthday arrives.
Wanting more Social Security doesn't make you greedy -- it makes you a savvy planner who wants to enjoy the most comfortable retirement possible. And if you make these strategic moves, you could end up with a generous monthly benefit that far exceeds what the average senior is able to collect today.