The great thing about Social Security is that you're entitled to your monthly benefits for life. And so the more money you start out with, the more you'll receive throughout your senior years.
As such, it pays to do whatever you can to come away with the highest paycheck possible. Here's how to eke more money out of Social Security.
1. Keep growing your job skills
What does being good at your job have to do with Social Security? It's simple. The more valued and trusted an employee you are, the more likely you'll be to snag promotions. And if those promotions come with raises, it could lead to more money for your senior years.
The monthly Social Security benefit you're entitled to during retirement is based on your earnings during your 35 most profitable years in the labor force. And so the better a job you do, the more money you're likely to earn.
2. Pick up a second job
Lots of people take on second jobs to meet different financial goals or address different needs, like building savings for retirement or paying off debt. If you earn an income from a gig you do on weekends or freelance work you spend your evenings on, that money will count toward calculating your future Social Security benefit as long as you report that income and pay taxes on it -- which, to be clear, is something you're required to do.
3. Delay your claim until the age of 70
You're allowed to sign up for Social Security beginning at age 62, albeit at a reduced rate. Once you reach full retirement age, you'll be eligible for your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history. Full retirement age kicks in at 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on the year you were born.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will reward you for delaying your filing beyond full retirement age. For each year you do, your benefits will rise by 8%, and that increase will remain in effect for your entire retirement.
Once you turn 70, you can't grow your Social Security benefits anymore, and so at that point, there's no sense in not claiming them. In fact, you don't want to delay your filing beyond age 70, because that could cause you to lose out on money.
But still, there's the potential to raise your Social Security benefits in a very meaningful way. Even if you have a later full retirement age of 67, you still have a chance to boost your benefits by 24% -- for life.
Get more out of Social Security
Retirement could end up being more expensive than you'd expect. For one thing, your healthcare costs could be substantial, especially if you end up needing a lot of services that Medicare won't cover.
If you're a homeowner in retirement, your housing costs could also climb through the years, even if your home is paid off in full by the time your career comes to an end. You could see your property taxes rise, or your home could wind up needing more maintenance and repairs as it ages.
And let's not forget the money it will cost you just to stay busy. Once you no longer have a day job, you may end up spending a lot on leisure and activities.
It's for these reasons that it pays to go after the highest Social Security paycheck you're eligible for. If you work hard to boost your earnings at work, pick up a side job, and delay your filing until the age of 70, you can raise your benefits and make retirement much easier from a financial standpoint.