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Four No-Brainers to Beat the Average Social Security Benefit

Robin Hartill notes surviving on the average benefit of $1,827 per month effective January 2023 yields only $21,924 a year, which is tough. However that’s the reality for those whose only source of income is Social Security. These benefits were never meant to be the sole source of money in retirement yet 25% of retirement-age people rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their income. The author lists four no-brainers to get that monthly check as high as possible: wait longer (until age 70 to maximize a benefit), boost income through raises or a second job, work 35 years to avoid any zeros in the calculation, and keep spousal and survivor benefits in mind. Full piece here.

The AMAC Foundation offers a free-to-the-public advisory service to all folks ageing into–or already in–Social Security. This service provides guidance in understanding the complexities of Social Security and the myriad rules and regulations associated with the process for claiming benefits, with NSSA-Certified Social Security Advisors available via email or telephone to discuss options. Learn more about this service via the Foundation’s website.

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Comments On This Topic

  1. I WAS 68 WHEN I married a Filipina online 7/2021, USCIS say marriage not valid for visa until personal contact so couldn’t apply for her visa to USA …Filipinas didn’t accept online marriages until one year later AUG 22.under certain conditions, ALSO NO PERSONAL CONTACT WAS POSSIBLE AS FILIPINAS WAS CLOSE TO VISITORS UNTIL APR 2022 so I never report my marriage…I WANT TO BE LEGAL AND REPORT MY MARRIAGE NOW THAT FINALY IS ACEPTED AS A NORMAL MARRIAGE… WILL I BE PENALIZED BY SSA?

    • Raul,
      From what you’ve written, the US government (USCIS) did not recognize your online marriage and would not issue your new wife a visa to come to the USA based on your online marriage. Further, you could not travel to the Philippines to meet your new wife due to visitor restrictions imposed by the Philippine government. All of which meant you didn’t “report” your marriage. However, all of that is outside of the Social Security Administration’s jurisdiction, so you won’t “be penalized by SSA.” But if you are seeking to get Social Security benefits for your new wife there are very specific criteria which you and your wife must meet in order for her to be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. Among those criteria are the following:
      – You must, yourself, be eligible for and collecting Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
      – Your wife must be at least 62 years old
      – You must be legally married for at least one year and be able to provided documented proof of your legal marriage to Social Security.
      If you and your wife have now been considered legally married for at least one year, your wife is now a legal resident of the US and you are now living together in the US, and your wife meets the minimum age requirement (62), she should be able to apply for her Social Security spousal benefit. If, however, your wife has never actually lived with you in marriage in the US and still resides in the Philippines, she may not be eligible for dependent benefits from you (due to a 5-year US residency requirement which normally applies in such cases). The Social Security Administration is the final arbiter of such circumstances, so assuming your wife is now in the US and meets the age and length of legal marriage criteria, you should contact Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 to make an appointment with your local SS office for your wife to apply for spousal benefits (you may accompany your wife at the appointment).
      Russell Gloor
      National Social Security Advisor
      The AMAC Foundation

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