Many seniors who collect Social Security need those benefits to cover their living costs. But what if you're in a different boat?

It may be that you entered retirement with a giant nest egg, and your savings alone are enough to cover your expenses and leave you with plenty of money left over to spend on hobbies and travel. If that's the case, and you're not really spending your Social Security income, then you might as well put it to work. And investing those benefits in real estate is an option worth considering.

Why retirement could be a great time to break into real estate

Many people shy away from owning income properties because of the work involved. And when you're holding down a full-time job, it can be difficult to carve out time to tackle landlord duties.

A smiling person at a laptop.

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But if you're retired, your schedule might be a lot more open. And if you feel you're capable of managing and maintaining a home, investing your Social Security benefits in an income property could prove to be quite lucrative.

Furthermore, many retirees struggle with having too many free hours on their hands. If you used to work an intense schedule, you may be having difficulty going from that to not having any obligations. If that's the case, overseeing an income property could actually serve as a good way to occupy your time -- and potentially make a lot of money in the process.

A less time-consuming and risky option

Managing an income property is a big time commitment, and it's something you may not be up for in retirement. Plus, there are risks involved in owning a rental property. If you buy in the wrong market, you might struggle with vacancies. And rising property taxes and endless repairs could eat into your profits or even negate them.

If you'd rather not take on the work and risk of owning an income property, you can instead look at investing your Social Security benefits in REITs, or real estate investment trusts. REITs are companies that own and operate different types of properties, and if you stick with publicly traded REITs, you'll find that you can buy or sell them with ease, just like any other stock.

One great thing about REITs is that they're required to pay at least 90% of their income to shareholders in dividend form. As such, they often pay more generous dividends than your typical stock.

If you're in a position where you don't even need your Social Security benefits to cover your living expenses, you may not care that much about collecting dividends. But remember, extra money is never a bad thing. And if you don't need it yourself, you could always give it to charity or gift it to family members you want to help support.

What can your Social Security benefits do for you?

Many seniors aren't in a position where they can contemplate investing their Social Security income. But if you're not reliant on those benefits, it pays to look at investing them in an income property or REITs.