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Maximize Social Security Benefits with Three Clever Tricks

Maximize Social Security Benefits with Three Clever Tricks

Obviously, retirement brings on a host of new challenges for seniors-specifically in the financial arena. However, armed with the proper tools, seniors can ensure a financially comfortable retirement. The objective is to build a strong foundation of retirement funds that provide a steady stream of income you won’t outlive.

In the past, most seniors and their financial planners have somewhat dismissed Social Security as a powerful retirement planning tool. Although Social Security certainly offers a reliable stream of income, the amount is diminutive and the benefits have a limited range of motion.

However, between the ages of 62 and 70, there are three clever tricks seniors can use to maximize their Social Security benefits: a reset, a file and suspend and restricting an application. By employing these three strategies, seniors may be able to greatly boost their benefits. Here’s how each tactic works:

Trick #1: Do over

The Social Security reset, or do over, is a great tactic for those who regret taking a reduced benefit at the age of 62. If you wish you would have waited and received the full benefit at 65 or 66 or earned the extra delayed retirement amount by putting off retirement until the age of 70, you’re in luck: you may have a second chance.

You can “reset” your benefit amount by coming out of retirement. All you have to do is file Social Security Form 521, also called “Request for Withdrawal of Application.” You’ll have to repay all the Social Security benefits you’ve received to date (no interest or inflation adjustment included.) Then, you can reapply for Social Security at your current age. You can only pull the reset one time-once you file Form 521, it’s irreversible.

The Social Security Administration will almost automatically approve your request, and you will receive the higher Social Security benefit amount for the rest of your life. Plus, your spouse may be able to collect additional spousal or survivor benefits based on your amped up benefit as opposed to your lower “early” retirement amount.

Trick #2: File and suspend

If you are married and you and your spouse retire at different ages, you can use the “file and suspend” tactic to maximize your Social Security benefit.

For example, let’s say you have reached your full retirement age at 66, but you plan to work until 70 to receive the delayed retirement credits. (This bonus can increase your full benefit amount by 32%.) Your wife, who does not work, just turned 62. You can file for Social Security now, but request an immediate suspension of your benefits. Then your wife can apply for her Social Security benefits at your current benefit level. Your wife will receive checks at a higher amount than she would have on her own employment record, and you won’t be locked into the lower benefit payment.

Once you turn 70, you can remove the suspension and begin receiving checks at the higher delayed retirement amount. Additionally, if you save up enough money to pay back the benefits your wife received, you can reset at the age of 70. This will not only increase your benefit, but it will also boost your wife’s spousal and survivor benefits.

Trick #3: Restricting an application

The restricted application is another tactic that may increase your benefits. Let’s say Bob is 66 and plans to work until he’s 70. His wife Jenny, who is also 66, is ready to retire. Jenny won’t be collecting from Bob’s record because she has earned her full benefit on her own record.

Instead of filing for Social Security, Bob decides to “restrict an application” only to Jenny’s benefits. This allows Bob to file as a spouse on Jenny’s record and collect half of her full benefit. In the meantime, Bob can continue working and build up delayed retirement credits on his own record. If Jenny earns $800 a month, Bob will collect $400 a month-which boosts their overall benefit amount by 50%.

Then, when Bob retires at 70, he will earn a higher benefit amount for his delayed retirement credits. Once again, this will mean Jenny will collect a higher benefit if Bob dies before her.

While these three Social Security tricks can help many taxpayers amplify their benefits, these strategies aren’t for everyone. For example, let’s say you plan to collect early and reset later. What if you are unable to save enough to pay back the benefits? Even worse, what if you die before having a chance to reset? Your spouse will then be left with a meager survivor benefit.

You should take time to think things through before you employ any of these tactics. You may want to discuss your options with a financial professional, who can help you come up with the best game plan for your unique situation.

Immediate Annuities Can Help You Secure Your Retirement Income

Immediate Annuities Can Help You Secure Your Retirement Income

As you approach retirement, it’s natural to worry about your retirement portfolio. It is also natural to become frightened during a recession, such as the ongoing downturn that started in 2008. During tough times, your entire strategy can suddenly become worthless. The supply of cash that you have carefully built up over your working life is gone, vanished like so much dust. This is downright scary. What shall you do? Many individuals in this same situation end up taking part-time jobs in order to support themselves.

An immediate annuity can help you regain liquidity. Buying an annuity is like buying a monthly pension check. It is an insurance policy that pays you a lifelong income stream in exchange for a lump sum. There is no age limit for purchasing an immediate annuity; you can buy one at 80 or 90 if you want to. When the payments start is entirely up to you. Once you decide on a date, the payments are orderly and on time, appearing on that date every month for the rest of your life.

Consider several advantages to immediate annuities:

  • Your insurance agent will be able to tell you what the monthly payment amount is based on your lump sum.
  • The annuity is backed by the financial security and assets of an insurance company, so do your research before buying.
  • This product affords you, the beneficiary immediate peace of mind since the payments start when you choose. You can rest completely assured of a secure, stable long-term monthly income. You can even add an inflation rider to the policy so that your income will not get eaten by inflationary pressures.
  • Since immediate annuities are different from stocks and bonds, there is no worry about volatility or market fluctuations. The value of the annuity remains constant. You have the protection of knowing that every month, the money will be deposited into your bank account.
  • There are no fees of any kind to be paid – no management fees, no setup or administrative fees, and no annual fees.
  • Favorable tax treatment – Only a small portion of income generated from an immediate annuity funded with after-tax dollars would be taxable.  This is because part of every payment is considered a return of principal.

Is an immediate annuity right for you? That depends on your unique needs of course. For those seeking to secure a future income stream, immediate annuities are a perfect way of achieving a guaranteed monthly income which will not fluctuate due to external forces. The peace of mind possible with having an income stream one cannot outlive should not be ignored.

Liquidated earnings are subject to ordinary income tax, may be subject to surrender charges and, if taken prior to age 59 1⁄2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Guarantees and payment of lifetime income are contingent on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.