2 little-known Social Security rules to help maximize retirement benefits

Social Security is the cornerstone of many Americans’ retirement plans. 59% of retirees say their monthly benefits check is a major source of income, according to an annual Gallup poll. As such, getting the most out of the program is extremely important for the majority of seniors.

But that’s easier said than done. While all the statistics point to delaying benefits as long as possible in order toΒ maximize your lifetime income from Social Security, very few seniors actually do so. Less than 10% of new Social Security claims went to people age 70 or older in 2022, according to the most recent data available. Meanwhile, the most popular claiming age is 62, the year most people become eligible for retirement benefits.

There are certainly instances in which it makes sense to claim as early as age 62. If you have a health issue shortening your expected lifespan, for example, it may make sense to claim early. Additionally, if you need supplemental income to provide for your basic needs, it can make sense to claim early. But most people will be better off waiting to claim their benefits.

The good news is that there are two little-known rules that can help you maximize your retirement benefits, even if you’ve already claimed early. Here’s what you can do.

Two Social Security cards on top of a pile of cash.

1. Hit the undo button

If you claim your Social Security benefits early, but your circumstances change or you realize you don’t need the income, you may be able to withdraw your application. As long as you submit your withdrawal request within 12 months of your original benefits approval, you can undo your claim.

It’ll be as if you never applied for benefits in the first place. Your monthly benefit will increase for every month you wait to claim dating back to when you turned 62.

There are a couple of catches, though.

First, you must repay all the money you and your family received from Social Security. That includes Medicare premiums and taxes withheld from your monthly check if you had any.

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