There's a valuable, inflation-protected annuity awaiting you in retirement, and understanding how to maximize the monthly payments can increase your wealth during the golden years.
Though eligibility for Social Security retirement income begins at age 62, workers are already getting the message that delaying benefits will result in a higher monthly payment. Full retirement benefits are paid at age 66 for baby boomers born between 1943 and 1955 but monthly payments will increase approximately 8 percent for each year the recipient delays until age 70. That could make a significant difference in living expenses.
But if you want or need income before age 70, there is another option. Two-income couples can use spousal benefits to their advantage by collecting some monthly income while at the same time maximizing the growth of one of the Social Security accounts. As an example, one spouse claims Social Security at age 66 while the other restricts his or her claim at 66 to collect spousal benefits only. That spouse then defers income on his or her own account until age 70, giving it more time to grow.
If one spouse is the primary breadwinner, he or she could do something called "file and suspend" at age 66. The account would continue to grow for the primary breadwinner until age 70, but the spouse could begin collecting spousal benefits on it in the meantime.
Both methods allow one of the accounts to grow to its full potential, while giving a married couple some income earlier in their retirement years. The Social Security Administration website spells out the eligibility details.
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