Social Security may seem like it’s completely out of your hands. The 80-year-old agency is huge, providing benefits to nearly 62 million people nationwide.
But there are a few things in your control that can affect the way you interact with the agency. Some steps are pretty big, like working longer to build a larger monthly benefit. But other things only take a minute or two, like checking your anticipated benefit or putting a security lock on who can see your data.
Social Security doesn’t have to be an intimidating monolith. Take a few minutes to cruise around the agency’s customer-friendly website.
Here are 5 ways you can put Social Security to work for you:
1. Check your progress
Don’t guess how much monthly income you can count on in retirement. Find out. Get an estimate of your monthly retirement benefit at the retirement estimator page. For a detailed estimate – based on your actual, reported lifetime earnings – sign up for my Social Security It’s not hard, you’ll just have to provide some information verifying you are who you say you are. You can even verify if the information Social Security has on you is accurate.
2. Grow that benefit
You could claim retirement benefits at age 62, but you’ll receive a smaller monthly check than if you wait until your full retirement age (FRA), which is 65 to 67, depending on your year of birth. Someone with an FRA at 67 who takes benefits at 62 would receive a benefit that is 30% less than it would be at 67. But, if you can wait to claim, you get a monthly benefit “raise,” up to 8% for each year you wait, up to age 70.
3. Get secure
Working with the “my Social Security” account, you have the option of adding a second method of identification that goes beyond a password. Any time you log in using a password, you can receive a confirmation code to your cell phone or email. And if you suspect fraud, you can go to your account and block electronic access.
4. Get a replacement card
For many, losing a Social Security card doesn’t have to be a hassle. Residents of 24 states (and the list has been growing) can log in to their “my Social Security” account and request a replacement.
5. Find out exactly how long you will live
Well, not exactly. Nobody can tell you that. But as you prepare a retirement strategy, it makes sense to consider how long you may live. The agency has a life expectancy calculator that, while fairly simple, is a reminder to think long-term when preparing for retirement.
Bonus: Social Security Matters is a blog from the agency that provides regular updates and reminders on topics from security to regulatory and benefit changes. You can have it delivered via email by signing up online.
Do you have any Social Security tips can you share?
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.
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