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Social Security: How to Claim the Maximum Benefit You Can Get

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President Joe Biden meets with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V. to talk about passing an infrastructure bill on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Those who are looking forward to collecting Social Security know that they have benefits to look forward to once they reach a certain age. But how much they collect at that time depends on a number of factors.

Motley Fool recently looked at how Social Security recipients can get the maximum amount from their benefits.

According to the piece, the highest possible benefit that can be earned from Social Security is $3,895, at least as of 2021. How can recipients get that much money?

First off, they need to work at least 35 years, and earn a relatively high impact.

“The Social Security benefit you’re entitled to in retirement is based on your 35 highest-paid years of earnings. But if you don’t work a full 35 years, you’ll have a $0 factored into your benefits calculation for every year you go without an income. Make sure to put in 35 years in the workforce at a minimum if you really want a shot at that maximum benefit,” Motley Fool said.

“There’s a wage cap in place for Social Security that changes from year to year. That wage cap dictates how much earnings workers are taxed on for Social Security purposes, and it also determines how much of your annual income counts toward calculating your benefit.”

The wage cap, as of 2021, is $142,800, although the cap traditionally rises from year to year.

Social Security recipients are also given the choice of at what age to file for benefits, and can earn more if they wait longer.

“Working a full 35 years and earning a high salary during that time will leave you in a great position to claim a generous Social Security benefit. But if you want the maximum benefit, you’ll need to delay your filing as long as possible, which means claiming benefits at age 70,” Motley Fool said of the practice of filing strategically.

While recipients can begin collecting at as young as their early 60s, they can collect more once they reach “full retirement age” (FRA), which is usually around 66 or 67. Each year, benefits increase more, reaching their highest when the claim is first made at age 70.

“Clearly, scoring the maximum Social Security benefit is no easy feat. But don’t stress if you can’t pull it off. Instead, focus on the things you can do to raise your benefit as much as possible. That could mean extending your career another year or two, fighting for a raise at work, or delaying your filing as long as it’s feasible,” Motley Fool said of the Social Security collecting strategy. “You may not end up collecting $3,895 a month in Social Security. But that doesn’t mean you won’t end up quite happy with the benefit you end up receiving.”

 Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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