Social Security Strategies As A Means Of Retirement Planning: Can It Work?

Social security strategies are any means by which you can increase the federal benefit amount or obtain benefits sooner or later. Attempting to get cash either when you need it most, or waiting to get more for a late retirement, is a problem for anyone expecting to live on federal benefits alone. Unfortunately, with the impending crisis around the depletion of the U.S. Treasury for these benefits, you may wonder if any of these strategies will work for you. Here is some information that can help you decide how to proceed.

Prolonging Retirement

Prolonging retirement ups the amount you can collect monthly when you do retire.

It is an effective strategy if:

  • You are able-bodied sound-minded enough to work until you are 70.
  • You do not have serious health problems that would prevent you working until you are 70.
  • You do not expect to get sick.
  • You have substantial retirement income that can carry you past 65, 66, 67, or 68 (current retirement ages required by the SSA for certain generations to retire).
  • You know your life expectancy will be greater than 80 (based on familial genetics).
  • Federal retirement benefits are not disbanded by 2035, when rumors have it that these benefits will end for everyone.

If most of the above apply, then yes, work until you are 70 and then retire.

Piggy-Backing Your Spouse's Benefits

Piggy-backing a spouse's benefits is risky. It works if you married someone significantly older or younger than yourself, but rarely works out if you married someone within five years or your own age. For example, if you marry someone twenty years your senior, your spouse will reach retirement age before you do. If the two of you can live on that for twenty years and/or that and your wages or spouse's pension, then you can piggy-back your benefits such that you get a little bit more or a little bit later.

However, if there are no pensions or retirement investments and/or you and your spouse are very close in age, money could be seriously tight for several years while you attempt this strategy. There is also a very real possibility that male spouses will pass away before female spouses and then you only get the monthly benefits and widow's one-time payment. Even with a single surviving spouse, money could be tight. Add to it any other spouses who lived with the deceased at least ten years, and you have a legal mess to sort through. A financial planner can help.