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Social Security: Five reasons you might not be getting the maximum benefit

Social Security provides payments to retired Americans that rely on it each month.

Social Security cards

In 2022, the average benefit is $1,657 per month.


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1. You started claiming too early

The earliest you can start claiming benefits is age 62. However, if that is when you start claiming, your Social Security benefit will be permanently reduced by 30%.

If you decide to wait until you reach your full retirement age (FRA), you will get 100% of the monthly benefit. But, if you decide to delay claiming benefits until you reach 70, you can get an extra 32% each month.

Although waiting may bring in some extra cash, you don’t want to wait too long if it will put you in a tough situation financially.

2. You aren’t claiming spousal benefits

If your spouse is getting their own Social Security retirement money, you can receive spousal benefits. This option could bring in more money if your partner earned more income than you.

Spousal benefits are available for married couples, and divorced couples that had been married for at least ten years.

If eligible, you can receive up to half of their retirement benefit amount. These payments will not decrease the amount of the primary earner’s retirement benefit.

3. You owe money

In some cases the Social Security Administration (SSA) can withhold a portion of your benefits if you have unpaid debt. This can include unpaid federal taxes, alimony, child support, restitution or federal student loan debt.

However, in most cases the SSA can’t take more than 15% of your benefits. benefits cannot be withheld due to unpaid debt from private creditors, such as credit card debt, medical debt, car payments or a private student loan.

4. State and federal taxes

Social Security benefits are taxed on the federal and state levels. If your income is more than $25,000 per year, or $32,000 per year for couples filing jointly, you will owe federal taxes on a portion of your benefit.

5. You’re still working

If you decide to keep working after you file for benefits, your monthly payment could be reduced. A deduction of benefits will depend on your income and age. There is a reduction if you have not reached FRA.


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