This article was originally published here
It’s much easier than you think to lose money in your retirement savings.
Do you want to get the most out of your Social Security benefits? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. It’s only natural to expect more from a pension that will last the rest of your days. The following are six ways to maximize your Social Security benefits.
Your Social Security payout is based on your past work history. Your benefits will be artificially reduced if your earnings history is incomplete.
Your earnings history may be seen by registering for an account with my Social Security. Form SSA-7004 can be used to get a copy of your earnings record from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Gather your tax returns, pay stubs, or any other proof, and call your local Social Security office if your income is missing from your record.
Taxes are due on the money you make from any secondary sources of income. If you fail to declare these earnings, you may face penalties from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Furthermore, you risk a smaller Social Security payout if you don’t declare all your income.
This method uses an average of your prior wages to calculate your Social Security payment. The 35 years you made the most money are included in this average. If you’ve worked less than 35 years, the average computation utilizes zeros to fill in the missing years of your career.
For example, let’s assume you’ve worked for 30 years and earned $50,000 throughout that time. The 35-year average of $42,860 is based on an assumption of no income for five years. You might expect to earn $50,000 after 35 years of full-time employment, which is the average.
If you can, work for 35 years. In this way, you can avoid years where you have no income, reducing your wages and, as a result, your pension.
For Social Security purposes, your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you are eligible for your entire pension without any reductions. Your Social Security payout will be smaller if you begin collecting it before your FRA. A percentage decrease is applied for each month your pension is expedited relative to full retirement age (FRA), and this deduction can be as significant as 30%.
Income limitations apply if you work and receive Social Security benefits before your FRA. Similarly, benefits are slashed if you go beyond certain limitations.
With a rise in your taxable income, you may experience a Medicare-related reduction in Social Security benefits. You may be subject to a higher or greater Medicare premium surcharge on your Social Security benefits if your taxable income (including investment income) rises. A Roth conversion or making a substantial investment gain can result in this.
Surcharges are added to your benefit two years after income is generated, making matters even more complex.
If you’re considering a Roth conversion, you might be willing to put up with a short-term reduction in your Social Security benefits in exchange for the long-term benefits. However, in some cases, timing your income may be able to reduce or prevent an additional penalty.
For delinquent obligations, Social Security may garnish your payments. Unpaid taxes, child support, alimony, and student loans to the Department of Education are among such obligations. Court-ordered victims’ restitution is another.
You must appeal garnishments directly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s preferable to avoid these circumstances if you can, as you’ll almost certainly require the assistance of an attorney.