Ways to Boost Social Security Benefits if Filed Early

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You are entitled to claim Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but you are not entitled to full benefits until you reach full retirement age (FRA). Your FRA is either 66 or somewhere between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. If you file benefits before FRA, it will reduce your monthly benefits for life. This is the primary reason why recipients are advised to wait until FRA to claim the benefits. However, if for some reason you claimed benefits early, but are now regretting the decision, all isn’t lost for you yet. You still have a few options to help you recover some of the lost benefits. So, this article discusses ways to boost Social Security benefits if filed early.

Ways to boost Social Security benefits if filed early?

If you are regretting your decision, you have the following ways to boost Social Security benefits if filed early:

Withdraw your application

The SSA gives you one chance to undo your decision of filing early. You can, however, only use this opportunity once in a lifetime provided it’s been less than a year since you started collecting Social Security.

All you need to do in this case is to withdraw your benefits application and return all the money you received in benefits so far. You can re-file for benefits again at a later date.

If you have already spent the benefits you received, you may need to use your savings to return the money. Also, the checks that your spouse or children are receiving based on your record will not just stop but will not grow during that time as well.

Thus, it is important that you understand the implications of withdrawing your application. If you are okay with depleting your savings, it is the best option to boost your Social Security benefits if you regret your decision to file early.

Reduce your expenses

If it is more than a year since you claimed Social Security, or your circumstances don’t allow you to withdraw your application, the best option you have is to cut down on your expenses to boost your smaller monthly benefit.

One of the best ways to significantly reduce your expenses is to relocate to a place with lower living costs. You can also consider selling your home and buying a similar or even smaller home in another area that is less costly.

You can also consider selling your vehicle if you don’t need it much at your new location. It will help you save on car maintenance, insurance and other related costs.

Continue working

You can continue to work to complement your smaller Social Security check. However, if you are working while collecting benefits, your benefits amount could get reduced if your earnings exceed a certain level. The SSA permanently increases your monthly benefits once you reach your full retirement age.

Working longer can offer another benefit as well. The SSA uses your 35 highest earning years to calculate your monthly benefits amount.

So, if you keep working and continue to earn more, it is possible that your working year (or years) after claiming benefits could count as among your 35 highest earning years. It will eventually help you to boost your monthly benefits.

Such a strategy of continuing to work is especially helpful for people with inconsistent work or low earnings records.

Earn some side income

If it is too late to withdraw your application, you can easily boost your monthly benefit checks by earning a side income. Nowadays, several options are available that can help people make money.

For instance, if you love crafting, you can easily sell them online, or if you love music or can play any musical instrument, you can offer lessons out of your home. Or, if you have a car, you can use it to earn money by shuttling passengers around town.

Make the right decision from the start

So, the above are the ways to boost Social Security benefits if filed early. It is, however, better that you never have to resort to these options, and the best way to do this is to make the right decision as to when to claim Social Security from the start.  

To make the right decision, it is important that you understand the implications of claiming benefits early. The first implication you must know about is that your benefits could be reduced by up to 30% more than what you would have gotten if you claimed at FRA. Another implication is that your decision to claim benefits can affect the benefits of your spouse as well.

In addition to the implications, you also need to ask yourself a few questions that will help you to make the right decision to claim benefits. These questions are:

  • Do I need the benefits now?
  • How much monthly benefits will I get if I file now?
  • Are my savings enough to allow me to live without benefits now and the near future?
  • Have I talked to my spouse and a financial expert about my decision to claim benefits now?

If you are able to answer these questions correctly and understand the implications, there are very good chances that you won’t have to find ways to boost Social Security benefits if filed early.