Social Security retirement benefits can be an important part of any individual’s retirement plan. In order to make the most out of them, it’s important to do some research and planning. This will allow you to understand how much you can expect to get from Social Security every month, maximize your benefit payment as much as possible, and make a plan for other sources of money in retirement.
This guide offers key steps individuals are recommended to take as they approach retirement in order to best plan for Social Security benefits.
There are several different types of Social Security benefits including retirement, disability, survivors, dependents, and Supplemental Security Income. You may be eligible for one, more than one, or none. It’s important to understand Social Security eligibility requirements in order to know which type(s) of benefits you can plan to receive.
This resource from the Social Security Administration can help you check your eligibility for different types of benefits. The table below offers a general summary of the eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits.
|Benefit Type||Eligibility Requirements|
|Supplemental Security Income||
Your Social Security benefits amount is decided at least partially on the basis of your earnings record. For this reason, it’s important that you confirm that the Social Security Administration has accurate information about your earnings. You can see this information on your Social Security Statement. If it is incorrect, it’s important to contact the Social Security Administration in order to correct them so you will receive the benefits owed to you.
For most people, Social Security retirement benefits alone will not be enough money to support them. Understanding what other sources of income you will have access to in your retirement will help you get a sense of whether or not it is important for you to make an effort to maximize your Social Security benefits and to what extent.
Potential sources of income you may have during retirement include:
In addition to your earnings record, several other factors affect how much your Social Security monthly benefit will be. These include:
Based on the information above, your final step is to decide when to take Social Security retirement benefits. Consider the following points:
Your final step of Social Security planning is to apply for benefits. You can do this online at the Social Security Administration’s website or in person at a Social Security office.
Note that you can plan your application to avoid a gap in income. In order to receive your first benefits check on a specific month, you must pick the month prior on your application and apply up to four months before the month you pick.
For help with planning and applying for Social Security, it’s always a great idea to reach out to a Social Security expert.