Social Security benefits, when combined with savings from other investments, can help you retire comfortably. However, not everyone will be able to collect the same amount from Uncle Sam. Understanding how to maximize your payments can ensure you don’t shortchange yourself years down the road. Here are some valuable tips for starting your claiming your social security benefits in retirement. 

8 Tips for Claiming Social Security Benefits

Whether you’re a few years away from retirement or have already closed the door on your professional life, you might be thinking about when and how you can collect those benefits you paid into for all those years. Here are eight tips for claiming Social Security benefits. 

1. Know Your Social Security “Full Retirement Age”

Your Social Security Full Retirement Age (FRA) is also known as your normal retirement age. This is the age at which you are entitled to all of the Social Security benefits you’ve earned. Consider this chart of benefits according to your birth year for reference.  

2. Understand the Work Credit Requirement

You must earn at least 40 “work credits” to collect Social Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four work credits annually, so it takes ten years of work to qualify for Social Security. You must earn $1,730 in 2024 to get one Social Security work credit. 

3. Review the Social Security Benefit Calculation

Social Security doesn’t necessarily use your most recent earnings to calculate your benefit, but rather your highest 35 years of earnings. However, if you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, you can continue to work in retirement to increase your benefits. 

4. Take Into Account the COLA Adjustment

One feature of Social Security benefits you don’t want to ignore is the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, which can help your benefit payments stay in line with your increased living expenses. For example, Social Security payments increased 8.7% in 2023. 

5. Get Your Timing Right

It might be tempting to claim Social Security benefits at age 62, which is as soon as they become available for most people. But, in general, you’ll collect more monthly and overall benefits if you wait until your full retirement age. 

6. Collect Spousal Benefits If You Qualify

You or your spouse may be able to collect Social Security benefits equal to 50% of the other spouse’s benefit. There are certain conditions that apply to this benefit, and your timing must be right. However, it’s something worth exploring so you don’t leave available money on the table. 

7. Manage Your Tax Liability

Many retirees don’t realize that they may need to pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. After 1984, those benefits lost their tax-free status. Currently, you would be taxed if your provision income exceeds $25,000 as a single person or $32,000 if you’re married. 

8. Beware of the Social Security Earnings Test

If you plan on continuing to work after retirement, your Social Security benefits could be reduced if you earn too much. For example, in 2024, you would forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn over $22,320. However, that limit no longer applies once you reach your full retirement age. 

Enjoy Your Retirement at a Solivita Living Community

Properly claiming and maximizing your Social Security benefits is essential for a comfortable retirement. Using the right strategies can ensure you have adequate financial resources so you can enjoy the years after leaving the workforce. 

If you are nearing retirement or are already retired, consider living in Florida. Solivita Living offers active communities throughout central Florida for retirees ages 55 and up. Schedule a tour today to learn more.