A summary of the four Social Security strategies and “loopholes” that experts recommend to potentially boost your payments:
Benefits for Non-working Spouses:
Generally, one must earn 40 “quarters of coverage” to qualify for Social Security benefits. However, if you’re married to someone eligible for benefits, you can get up to 50% of their benefit once you reach full retirement age. If you’ve worked and qualify for your own benefit, which might be more than 50% of your spouse’s, you’ll receive the higher of the two.
Benefits from an Ex-spouse:
Even after a divorce, you might qualify for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record.
- You need to have been married for at least 10 years.
- You can receive up to 50% of your ex’s benefit when you reach full retirement age, unless your personal benefit is higher.
- You must remain unmarried and be at least 62 years old to avail this.
If your spouse dies, you can receive up to 100% of their benefits, depending on your age.
- Full retirement age or older: 100% of deceased’s benefit
- Age 60 to full retirement age: 71½% to 99%
- Disabled, age 50-59: 71½%
- Any age with a child under 16: 75%
- Children under 18, still in school under 19, or with disabilities can get 75% of the deceased’s benefit. Dependent parents aged 62 and older can get 75%-82.5% of the primary recipient’s benefit.
Avoiding Deductions Before Full Retirement:
If you claim Social Security before full retirement age and continue working, your benefits might be reduced depending on your earnings.
- In 2023, if you earn more than $21,240 before reaching full retirement age, $1 will be deducted from your benefits for every $2 you earn over this limit.
- In the year you attain full retirement age, $1 will be deducted for every $3 you earn over $56,520.
- To maximize benefits, manage your earnings to stay below these thresholds.
- It’s important to consult with a financial advisor or expert to understand how these strategies might apply to your individual situation.