How a Two-Income Couple can Maximize their Social Security Benefits

Everyone Needs to Do Some Planning Before Starting Their Social Security.

You will have plenty of time to relax and have fun, if you plan your retirement well.  Make sure you understand all the possibilities.
You will have plenty of time to relax and have fun, if you plan your retirement well. Make sure you understand all the possibilities. | Source

Preparing for Retirement

If you are a two income couple nearing retirement age, you may be getting worried about your future. With a weak economy and the loss of billions of dollars in investment portfolios in the past few years, many people who are near retirement age are wondering how they can possibly survive on Social Security. Here are a few strategies to help couples, when they have both been working and paying into Social Security over many years. These suggestions are designed to help them maximize their benefits. Of course, anyone contemplating retirement should be sure to check with the Social Security Administration for additional ideas and any rule changes. When you begin to prepare for retirement, you should make an appointment with your nearest Social Security office before you quit your jobs, in order to discuss various options. Our family has always found the employees at the Social Security Administrations to be extremely helpful.

Step One: Work as Long as Possible - Although Not Everyone Can

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to maximize your Social Security benefits is for both of you to keep working as long as you possibly can. The amount of Social Security you will eventually receive will be higher if you have worked more years; your benefits are also increased if you are older when you begin to collect, up to age 70. In addition, it is not unusual for your highest earning years to be those years just prior to retirement. Remember that the higher your earnings, the higher your benefits will be.

Of course, not everyone can work until they are 70. In those cases, it is important to work as long as you can.

Postpone Collecting Your Social Security

If one of you must stop working because of health reasons or forced retirement, postpone applying for Social Security benefits as long as possible in order to maximize what you will receive. Living on one income may help you both prepare for the reduced income you may be living on once you begin to receive your Social Security. In addition, the longer you postpone collecting your Social Security benefits, the larger they will be. Waiting as long as possible is a smart move for those who are able to hold off.

Legal Tricks to Increase Your Social Security

The blog, Baby-Boomer-Retirement.com, frequently discusses ways that individuals and couples can increase the amount of retirement income they can expect. One way to do this is by maximizing your Social Security Benefits. There are also some tricks that have helped millions of people be able to collect extra Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, although the tricks listed below are all legal, many people have not benefited from them, because they do not understand how Social Security can work for married couples with two incomes.

If one spouse files for Social Security first, the other spouse can apply for spousal benefits, which are a portion of their partner’s Social Security. Depending on their age when they start taking the benefits, they can receive an amount that is between about one-third and one-half of their spouse’s benefits. They will still let their own Social Security benefits continue to grow, since they are not using their own benefits, yet. When they reach age 70, they can decide whether they are better off using their own Social Security benefits, or if the portion of their spouse’s benefits that they have been receiving is greater. You are entitled to collect the larger amount.

This is how the plan would work: If the husband files for Social Security at his full retirement age of about 66, he might receive about $1500 a month. If his wife is at her full retirement age of about 66, she would get half that, or $750. If she is between the ages of 62 and 66, she could still collect a percent of her husband’s Social Security, although it would be less. In addition, because he is over 66, he can continue to work until he is 70, which will increase the Social Security benefits for both of them. If the wife was at her full retirement age when she began collecting a percentage of her husband’s benefits, she could also keep working and let her own benefits grow. If she works and collects money from Social Security at the same time, before she reaches her full retirement age, her benefits may be decreased, depending on the amount of money she earns. After she reaches full retirement age, however, she can continue to work and receive a check at the same time, without a penalty. Once she reaches age 70, she would then stop taking the spousal benefit and begin to take her own Social Security, as long as her own benefits were higher than the amount she was receiving from her husband’s benefits.

Another approach is for both the husband and wife to postpone collecting their benefits and continue working until they are 70, which will allow their Social Security benefits grow to the maximum. The amount that they would collect at age 70 would be about one third larger than it would have been if they had collected their Social Security benefits at age 66. When they both retire, the wage earner who earned the least can either receive their own benefits or one-half of their spouse’s benefits, whichever is greater.

In addition, if the spouse with the larger Social Security benefit dies first, the surviving spouse would have his or her benefits increased to the amount that the deceased spouse was receiving, although they would no longer get their own benefits as well. You can only collect the benefits of one person. However, getting the step-up to the pension of the larger wage earner helps the person who earned the least, if they should become widowed.

Use this information to get the most out of your Social Security benefits. For additional assistance, you can experiment with a variety of retirement options by using the Social Security Administration’s on-line calculator at socialsecurity.gov. It will help you make a more educated decision about the best time for you to retire.

Learn All You Can About Social Security - It Can Make a Huge Difference in What You Receive

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Comments 23 comments

MobyWho profile image

MobyWho 4 years ago from Burlington VT

Thank you for the help. Perfect example of "knowledge is power".


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope people find this information about Social Security to be helpful.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

Great tips for older couples!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Hopefully this information will help many people get the most from their Social Security benefits!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

The doctor and my husband had the working discussion yesterday. The doctor telling my husband he was to old and needed to stop working, well that didn't go over good! He says he's not going to stop working.

Lots of good information in your hub. Voted up.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

It is hard on many people to have to stop working. Hopefully, by maximizing your Social Security benefits, you will be able to live comfortably whether you husband works or not.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Very informative and helpful! This is great information for married couples getting close to when they can collect SS benefits.

They need to have some tips and tricks for single SS recipients since more and more people are choosing not to be married in later years.

Voting up and useful!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for your comments about increasing Social Security benefits for single people. The best move they can make is to continue to work for as long as possible and try to postpone collecting their benefits until they are between ages 66 and 70. In addition, if they have not worked very many years, they should check out what benefits they could receive based on the earnings of a former spouse. If they were married at least 10 years, they can collect an amount equal to one-half of what the former spouse receives. This has helped many divorced people get more benefits than they expected, especially if they were divorced late in life and have only worked a few years. I you find these suggestions helpful!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Great information for people nearing retirement age. Hubby and I are there now. He retired from his job of 31 years 5 years ago and he and I started a vending machine business. Neither of us will be able to draw social security for several more years yet, but this is great information to get prepared for it. The way the age requirement keeps going up, we may not live long enough to collect! Voting this us, useful, interesting and sharing! :)


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

I know a lot of people who work and are on social security. There is a limit to how much you can make but they need that extra income. I hope that they still have social security by the time I am really to retire. A lot of us might be working till we drop.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

It is very important that people pay a visit to the Social Security Administration office in their area before they apply for their own benefits. While I believe that Social Security will be around for many decades, it will not cover 100% of the living expenses of most people. Everyone is going to have to have a plan to supplement their benefits and cut their expenses so that they can survive during the years after they stop working.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

This article contains important information and advice so I'm going to pin it to my "Financial Issues" board, and share it with my followers again too.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for adding this to your "Financial Issues" board. Although Social Security is not perfect, for many people it will provide their only source of income when they retire. This is extremely frightening! Everyone needs to know what to do to maximize their income.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Going to share this again in case anyone is getting ready to collect Social Security and could use some advice.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

This topic interests me as my parents are nearing retirement age. I will direct them toward the baby boomers retirement blog. I didn't realize there were so many ways to maximize benefits. Thank you!


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

Very interesting about using your spouse's SS.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California Author

There are literally dozens of different choices people can make in collecting their Social Security. Some will give you more income now; some will give you more income later. Some will give more benefit to the spouse; some will give more benefit to you. Your choice will be different if you have a fatal, life-shortening disease than it will be if you are in good health and expect to live to be 100. People need to explore all their options before they begin to claim their Social Security. Once they have collected their first payment, they are pretty much stuck with that decision.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for this look at maximizing social security benefits to help seniors. Pinning to my Solve It: Senior Citizens board


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

People getting close to collecting Social Security benefits should read this so that they get maximum benefits. Like everything else nowadays it's important to stretch every penny as far as possible whether it's coming in or going out.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California Author

So many people do not know much about their Social Security benefits. They need to learn more so that they can have the easiest retirement possible.


ezzly profile image

ezzly 22 months ago

Very useful article thanks for sharing these tips !


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Everyone needs to do personal research on how they can legally get the most money possible from their Social Security, especially if they don't have a lot of savings.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 19 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Thanks, ezzly! Sometimes just a few changes, such as postponing your retirement by a few months, can make a difference in how much you will receive. Everyone should do all the research they can BEFORE they start to collect.

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