There may come a point in your life when Social Security becomes your primary source of income. And even if you enter retirement with a nice level of savings, you might still appreciate a higher Social Security benefit for the extra leisure spending it allows.
Now, you might think the monthly Social Security benefit you end up with is set in stone. But actually, you can take steps to boost that benefit and snag more income throughout retirement. And one of those steps may require you to take action and hustle during your working years.
1. Boost your wages
Social Security doesn't pay all seniors the same benefit. Rather, the amount of money you're eligible for will hinge on your personal wage history. That means if you're able to boost your wages, you might reward yourself with higher monthly Social Security paychecks.
Now, boosting your wages likely won't boil down to marching into your boss's office and demanding a raise year after year. You may need to take matters into your own hands by lining up a series of side jobs or growing your skills so you're eligible for continuous promotions. But if you're willing to put in the time and effort, you may end up more financially stable once retirement rolls around.
2. Delay your claim
You're entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit based on your earnings history at full retirement age (FRA). FRA depends on your year of birth, and it's either 66, 67, or somewhere in between.
But each year you delay filing past FRA, your benefits get an 8% boost. That means if you have the latest FRA of 67, you still have the potential to grow your benefits by 24%.
Now, you may be unable to delay your Social Security filing until age 70 or even just a year past FRA. But the good news is that you get credit for every month you delay. So, if you postpone your filing by three months, for example, your monthly benefit will increase by 2% on a permanent basis.
3. File strategically with your spouse
If you and your spouse are both eligible for Social Security benefits based on your respective earnings records, you have a prime opportunity to coordinate your filings and snag a solid payday. One popular strategy for couples is to have the lower earner claim benefits at or around FRA and then have the higher earner file at age 70 to boost that payment even more.
But that's not your only choice. You and your spouse should put your heads together and figure out how to make the most of your situation, keeping things like your income needs, life expectancy, and retirement goals in mind.
The more you know about Social Security, the better positioned you'll be to make the most of your benefits -- and walk away with the highest monthly payday. Take some time to read up on Social Security so you can truly enjoy your retirement to the fullest.