Social Security

Maximizing Social Security

As you examine financial risks to your retirement, there is a right away and a wrong way to look at Social Security. The wrong way: I need to get the money as soon as I can because I paid into the system and deserve it. The right way: I need to get the most over the long haul. Here’s how to receive the maximum from Social Security.

Cheap and Easy Travel via RV

When I ask people what do they plan to do when retired, the answer often is: “See new places.” A good and affordable way to do that is becoming a part-time or full-time RVer.

In my experience, the No. 1 activity most people look forward to when they retire from earning an income is travel. Seeing the world has never been easier. True, air travel is rarely easy or pleasurable, and it can be expensive. With a little planning and work, though, travel can fit easily into many retirees’ budgets.

Spousal Benefits: Unequal

Social Security spousal benefits shortchange some couples. Here’s what to know.

Among facts about these benefits:

·         For you to file for spousal benefits, your spouse must file for benefits first. The first filing spouse does not have to begin receiving money at once: He or she can postpone that after filing, allowing you to take spousal benefits.

Key Retirement Deadlines

After years of work, you look to retire, relax and enjoy spending time as you wish. Not so fast. Retirement ushers in important annual deadlines and here’s what to know.

Some of these deadlines also carry penalties if you don’t pay attention. Keep an eye out for these seven critical ones as you reach certain ages.

In chronological order:

Retire Early: Lower Benefits

If you intend to retire in this year, think twice about claiming your Social Security benefits early. Taking it early means you get a lower payout.

You receive your full monthly Social Security benefit if you retire at your full retirement age (FRA), which ranges from 65 if you were born in 1937 or earlier to 67 if you were born in 1960 or later.

Your Spouse’s Social Security

If you find Social Security spousal and survivor benefits confusing, here are the differences and similarities you need to understand as you make decisions about applying for one or the other.

For one thing, you may be entitled to these benefits based on someone else’s Social Security record, such as your spouse or ex-spouse. No matter the size of your own Social Security benefit, you qualify for spousal benefits and survivor benefits if your spouse has a Social Security retirement benefit on record.

Unsung Social Security Extra

If you are married, you can use your spouse’s Social Security to collect extra benefits, even before you touch your own. This often-overlooked feature may add thousands of extra dollars to your retirement income.

Social Security has a Rodney Dangerfield problem because it just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It is a great risk-free, cost-free inflating annuity for life. But what’s even better is that married couples have additional ways to increase benefits.

Calculating Social Security

It pays to know all formulas you use to calculate your ever-changed Social Security benefits. Here’s a look at one of them, which affects how much you get, a seemingly abstruse yet crucial concept called bend points.

The Social Security Administration’s cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2014 also allows for calculation of the bend points for the new year.

How to Boost Social Security

You likely know that increasing your income over time makes a difference in your eventual Social Security retirement benefits. But how much of a difference? This is complicated, but let’s explain it.

Much depends on your current income and how many years remain before you begin receiving benefits. Social Security calculates your benefits using your:

Barriers to Retirement Savings

Saving for retirement, an admirable aim, has lots of obstacles. The overall economy is to blame for some, government rules for others and employer tightfistedness for still others. Retiring at 65, which is the traditional goal, is for many a pipedream.

Today, people are living longer in part because of less physically demanding work than in the past and better health care throughout life. Many people are choosing to work longer, many because they have to, not because they want to.

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