As more and more baby boomers leave the workforce, it’s come to light that many may not have saved enough for retirement. That may mean relying more heavily on Social Security, so figuring out ways to boost that monthly check can be a boon in your golden years.
Social Security was designed to supplement your other retirement savings, as it is only meant to replace about 40% of your income before exiting the workforce. But a recent TD Ameritrade survey found that 28% of Americans in their 60s have less than $50,000 saved for their golden years. That number jumps to 37% when looking at Americans in their 50s.
So what can you do to boost your Social Security checks if you are in that 28%?
Here are a few strategies to consider:
1. Work Just a Little Longer to Boost Those Social Security Checks
Working even just a year or two longer than you may have planned initially can have multiple benefits. For one, it means you can put off touching your nest egg, and it gives you more time to put funds into it. This can be especially helpful if you are in a good career and earning more than you had earlier in life.
Speaking of making more, remember that Social Security takes your 35 highest-earning years to calculate what your monthly benefit check will bill. If you are making more later in your career, some of those better years may knock off earlier years that were dragging that average down. This can be especially true if you had some lean years, or even years of unemployment.
2. Delay Your Benefits
An even bigger boost can come from delaying your Social Security benefits past your full retirement age (FRA), which is somewhere between age 66 and 67 currently. We’ve talked about delaying benefits before, but that’s because it can mean a hefty increase to your monthly check. For every year past your FRA, you will see an 8% boost to your benefits.
Here’s an example, per The Motley Fool:
Imagine you’re entitled to $1,600 a month from Social Security at FRA of 67. Wait until 70 to claim those benefits instead, and you’ll get paid $1,984 — a fairly significant difference.
The Social Security Administration found the average monthly check was $1,503 in January 2020, so that example is on the high end. But the strategy still holds up no matter what you receive.
3. Move to a State That Doesn’t Tax Your Social Security Benefits
There aren’t many states that tax Social Security, and many of the states that do tax the benefits have exemptions if you aren’t earning a certain amount. Here are the 13 states that tax the benefits to some degree:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
We recently did a fairly extensive breakdown of the states that tax Social Security here on Money and Markets.
Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia are the only states that don’t have a way out of getting taxed, so if you live in one of those states and are worried about the government taking some of your income away, you may consider moving.
Saving for retirement is one of the most important money tasks you’ll face in life. If you haven’t had a chance to save as much as you’d like, some of these Social Security tips may be worth considering.
• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money and Markets.
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