Top 11 Strategies for Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits

Dr. Nicholas E. Michels, CFP®

Did you know that 90% of Americans do not maximize their Social Security benefits? As a father, I do not like the word entitled. However, when it comes to your Social Security, these absolutely are benefits owed to you, and we want to help you receive the most money possible.

When you maximize your Social Security benefits, it could allow you accomplish 4 things:

  • Live a more lavish and fun lifestyle in retirement
  • Retire earlier
  • Give more money to help others
  • Pass on more money in inheritance to loved ones, churches, and quality non-profits

Follow these 11 tips to increase your benefits:

1. Work into retirement—but limit that income

You can maximize your income by drawing Social Security, and working at the same time. Be sure to limit your amount of earned income to less than $20,000 before you reach full retirement age. Once you reach that age, you can earn up to $51,000 on top of your Social
Security benefits.

2. Work at least 35+ years

The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates benefits based on lifetime earnings of your
35 highest-earning years. Each additional year of income after the 35th year will replace any
lower-income years which will boost your income.

3. Consider side-hustles for extra income

Any extra income going toward your benefits will help increase those benefits up to a certain
point. Consider boosting your income at your current job, taking on side jobs for extra
income, and make sure you get credit for all of your hard-earned money.

4. Delay benefits until at least age 67

While you can start collecting at age 62, you would only receive 75% of the amount of which
you’re eligible. By waiting until at least age 67, you can increase your benefit by 8% each year
until you reach age 70, at which point you will receive your maximum benefit allowed.

5. Don’t forget about spousal and survivor benefits

If you are married, divorced, or widowed you have options to claim spousal and survivor
benefits. If you have been married to your current spouse or were married to an ex-spouse for
at least 10 years, you can claim spousal benefits on them as long as they have started their
benefits claim. If your spouse has passed away, you can also claim survivor benefits if your
spouse’s benefit payment was more than your own.

6. Work with a financial advisor

Social Security benefits can often be confusing for those just starting out. By working with a
financial advisor specialized in Social Security benefits—such as Michel’s Family Financial—they can help you maximize your benefits to cater to your specific situation.

7. Learn how to minimize your Social Security taxes

If you decide to work after you start receiving your benefits, it’s a good idea to spread out your
income from various sources to prevent any tax increase to your current benefits. This includes keeping your earned income below a certain level or taking a “tax honeymoon” where you do not earn any supplemental income during a certain time-frame.

8. Understand the ins and outs of your benefits—and how you get them

Many financial advisors suggest strategies to understanding your benefits including reading your Social Security statements for accuracy, knowing how to determine your benefit amounts, and checking the Social Security Earnings Record to view all earnings reported to the SSA. They also suggest to become familiar with your tax liability, increases owed to you, and any adjustments made.

9. Double-check your Social Security Earnings Record

You have access to your earnings record through the SSA. By creating an account through the
earnings record website, you are able to view annual statements regarding your reported
income using your name and Social Security number. You can compare your earnings history to your W2s and tax returns, and have the option to correct any misreported earnings to make sure you get your full benefit entitlement.

10. Check your pensions

Benefits may be affected if you have a pension from a job that did not take out Social Security
taxes. Some common examples include people who worked for the public education system,
railroad workers, and Federal government employees hired before 1984 who are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). If you fall under one of these categories, check to see if your pensions were taxed for Social Security.

11. Know your COLAs (Cost-of-living Adjustments)

The government adjusts your benefit amounts each year based on inflation to help keep up with the cost of living. While these adjustments can vary significantly from year to year, it is
important to pay attention to your benefits to make sure you are getting your cost-of-living

The views expressed represent the opinion of Michels Family Financial. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. While Michels Family Financial believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and the Michels Family Financials’ view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.


All information herein has been prepared solely for information purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy. Past performance is no indication of future performance.