One of the biggest mistakes people can make when planning for retirement is failing to maximize their social security benefits.

Why is this a mistake? You may have heard that social security is broken, that it might not be around by the time you retire. But the truth is, social security is still here and you should take advantage of it. It can easily be used as another stream is income to help find your retirement.

Here are three ways to potentially increase your social security benefits.

1.) Delay collecting your benefits.
Too many people rush to collect their social security benefits. This can be a mistake if you retire too early. You can begin receiving benefits as early as age 62, but if you do so; your benefits can be reduced significantly. Waiting on your “full retirement age” maybe a better option. It means you won’t face any reduction. The latest you can begin collecting benefits is at age 70. There is good reason to hold off until then if you can afford it. Benefit payments go up 8% for every year you wait until you reach you full retirement age up to age 70. Basically the longer you wait the higher your benefit will be. If you are healthy, and your family tends to live longer, it might make sense for you to wait.

2.) Claim spousal benefits.
Married individuals can claim social security based on their personal earnings record or on their spouse’s earning record. If you choose your spouse’s earning record you can receive up to 50% of your spouse’s benefit, but you have to wait until your spouse has filed their own claim. This is a simple choice because you can claim whichever one is higher.

3.) Claim survivor benefits.
Imagine a hypothetical couple, John and Jane. They are claiming social security based on their own earning records. If John should die, under certain circumstances, Jane can file to increase get benefit. She can file to receive John’s benefit, or increase her own benefit to the same amount that John received, if John’s number is higher.

There are other ways to maximize your benefits. There are also other factors to consider when deciding to take social security. But whatever you do, remember that social security is a source of income that should be a big part in funding your retirement, and it lasts the rest of your life. Don’t deny yourself the chance top heave more money for your retirement.

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Securities and Advisory Services offered through Triad Advisors Member FINRA/SIPC

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