If you're like most Americans who are approaching retirement age, then you've paid into the Social Security system for decades. With this in mind, you'd be excused for wanting to maximize how much you get in return once you become eligible for payouts. But how do you do this?

It turns out there are three factors that affect the size of your Social Security benefits. First and foremost, your benefits are a function of how much eligible income you earned during your working life. Second, they rise or fall depending upon when you elect to receive them. And third, before attaining normal retirement age, benefits are reduced if other income sources exceed a specific threshold.

Suffice it to say, understanding how these variables affect you is critical to ensuring a comfortable retirement. To learn more about the topic, check out the following video, in which Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses the ins and outs of maximizing your Social Security benefits.


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