Key Point: The Social Security program, which dates back to the 1940s, has been helpful for generations of Americans, who get some money in retirement as a result of the program.
However, maximizing what one can get out of Social Security is not always easy. A recent article looked at how future beneficiaries can best make plans for when they’re collecting from the program.
The Motley Fool recently wrote about how the average monthly Social Security benefit is $1,507, which adds up to an annual payment of $18,084. The article went on to provide some advice as to how beneficiaries can collect more when it comes time to get Social Security.
The first piece of advice is a simple one: Earn more money during your working years.
“Benefits are based on average wages over the thirty-five years when you earned the most. If you can boost your earnings above what the typical American makes, you can get a benefit that's above average,” the Fool article says.
It also suggests not collecting Social Security at first opportunity.
“The maximum monthly Social Security benefit doesn't become available unless you wait until seventy to start getting your checks. If you claim any time before then, your benefit could be reduced due to a missed opportunity to earn delayed retirement credits and/or due to early filing penalties.”
Even with those measures, the article says, Social Security isn’t enough to live on, all by itself, for most people.
“If your employer provides a pension, this can help you supplement Social Security. But that's not an option for most people, which means there's just one solution to avoid living on around $18K in income as a retiree: You are going to have to invest and build a retirement nest egg that can provide you with the extra money you need,” the Fool article says
Another option is to invest wisely, in order to have some investment income in retirement. Readers are advised to have a 401(K) or IRA, and to plan ahead with savings for retirement. People should have a sense of how much it will cost to live while retired, and plan towards that.
“For example, if you need your savings to provide $25,000 in income to add to your Social Security benefit, you'd want around $625,000 saved. That way, if you follow the four percent rule to set a safe withdrawal rate from your retirement accounts, your savings would produce the desired amount,” the Fool article says. “From there, you can pick your retirement investments —exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are usually an easy approach if you don't want to buy individual stocks —and watch your money grow.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.