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Tom: What else that we can do to maximize our benefits?

Mellody: If you are married, you may also be able to maximize your Social Security check by knowing what and when to claim. First, you can choose to receive your own benefits or half of your spouse’s benefit amount. So, if you do not work or your spouse earns significantly more than you, the spousal benefit is the right way to go.

Next: if you plan to claim that spousal benefit, you’ll only get 35 percent of the amount rather than 50, if you start collecting before you turn 66.

Finally, while the rule of thumb for Social Security is that the longer you wait, the bigger your check, this is not true for spousal benefits. Waiting past 66 doesn’t provide you as the spouse with any additional benefits. For you or your better half to get a spousal benefit while the other waits, you have to file for your own retirement benefit first. Then, if you also want your benefit to grow until age 70, you can file at your full retirement age but suspend collection until 70.

Tom: Any other tips?

Mellody: Two additional pointers: first, do not file for two benefits at once. For example, if you’re eligible for a retirement benefits and a survivor benefit, you’ll lose out on one if you file for both simultaneously. Secondly, if you were married for over 10 years, and then got divorced, you may be eligible to claim full spousal benefits while letting your own benefits grow, so check in to that if this applies to you.

Tom: Always great to have you join us, Mellody!

Mellody: Great to be here, Tom!

For more information on Social Security benefits go to the Social Security website HERE. 

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Money Mondays: 80 Years Of Social Security And How It Can Benefit You was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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