Social Security: Don't claim benefits until you get there

Social Security: It doesn't matter how old you are, don't claim benefits until you get there

Retirees could see an increase in Social Security from inflation adjustments

There's a magic number to know that can help you boost your Social Security income when you're ready to retire. And it's not the number you might think.

Most people know that you can start claiming Social Security benefits at age 62. And if you've done any financial planning for your retirement, you probably also know that if you wait to claim benefits until age 70, you can get the maximum benefit amount you can get it monthly.

But there may not be much advantage to waiting, especially if you need the income to live. Likewise, if claiming Social Security benefits can help you avoid taking out interest-earning investments too soon or even selling stocks and other investments in a bear market, you should do so once you reach age 62.

This is because the Social Security system equalizes benefits for life regardless of when you claim. If you start claiming early, you will get the money early. But if you wait to claim until you're 70, you'll get more money in a shorter period of time to make up for those eight years you didn't get benefits.

However, you want to make sure that you have worked and paid into Social Security for at least 35 years before claiming benefits.

You see, Social Security benefits are designed to equal a percentage of the median wages of the highest 35-year-olds who earned it. For most people, their salary goes up as they get older and gain more experience in the workforce. More importantly, if you haven't worked for 35 years, Social Security will still calculate the average based on your salary and divide the total by 35. So, if you've only worked 20 years, that's 10 more than the minimum required to collect Social Security, the administration would add. Social Security pays you for those 20 years and then you divide by 35. The other 15 years will count as $0.

If you're concerned about how much you'll receive in retirement based on your current work history or you're planning ahead for your retirement, you can see your Social Security statement, with custom retirement benefit estimates, at nine different ages. You'll also see your earnings history so you can make an informed decision about when to stop working and collect Social Security.

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