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Most Americans Make This 1 Social Security Mistake — Here’s How to Avoid It

Most Americans Make This 1 Social Security Mistake — Here’s How to Avoid It

Almost everyone will rely on Social Security to bolster their income in retirement, with some needing it more than others. Over half of older Americans have no idea how much they will actually receive from the benefits program, though.

According to a recent survey from Schroders, an investment management firm, 52% of adults in the U.S. age 45 to 59 don’t have a clue when it comes to how much they will receive each month from Social Security. That’s kind of a scary thought considering the program is not designed to completely replace your income in retirement. In fact, it’s only supposed to replace 40% of the income you make before leaving the workforce.

Taking a little time to figure out how much you will receive every month in Social Security benefits can be an eye-opener, and can help you realize how the program contributes to your retirement plans. And if you don’t have a retirement plan yet, you can use your estimated Social Security payments as the first building blocks toward crafting a more all-encompassing retirement savings goal that implements other investments.

Getting access to your expected Social Security income is easier than you think, too. Creating a mySocialSecurity account through the SSA’s website gives you access to an estimator tool that shows you what to expect every month. Knowing that first number, and comparing it to what you make now can help you craft a plan that will let you continue your lifestyle in retirement.

What Can Boost Your Social Security Benefit Check

We’ve harped on some of these things before here on Money and Markets, but a refresher never hurts and knowing how the SSA comes up with your benefit amount can show you some ways to boost your Social Security check.

The first thing to know is that Social Security takes your 35 highest-earning years of employment to craft your total benefits. Depending on your situation you may be able to work a few extra years at a better job and knock off some of those lower years — or maybe even zero years — to boost your monthly check.

It also pays to delay Social Security for as long as possible. The earliest you can start Social Security is 62, but you’ll be hit with a permanent reduction to your checks for every year before your full retirement age, which is somewhere between age 66 to 67 for newer retirees.

Waiting until 70 will actually boost your checks by 8% every year up to 70, but be sure to claim at 70 because the income credits will stop when you reach that age and you’re just throwing money away at that point.

Here’s a handy chart that breaks down benefits related to when you claim Social Security:

START COLLECTING AT: FULL RETIREMENT AGE OF 66 FULL RETIREMENT AGE OF 67
62 75% 70%
63 80% 75%
64 86.7% 80%
65 93.3% 86.7%
66 100% 93.3%
67 108% 100%
68 116% 108%
69 124% 116%
70 132% 124%

Of course, delaying benefits may not make sense for you if you are in poor health and aren’t expecting to live as long. It also may make sense to claim early if you already have a healthy retirement account and are just looking for a little boost to your monthly income.

Learning what to expect from Social Security can be a bit of a reality check for you and your retirement plan, but it can also be a building block for crafting a healthy retirement plan. So take the time to educate yourself so you aren’t part of the 48% of Americans who may be in for a rude awakening.


• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money and Markets.

For our friends: Anyone who wants to grow and protect their money in retirement needs to hear this. For the first time publicly, Bill O’Reilly comes clean about what happened to his money.