Secrets to Maximizing Social Security

Despite a temporary shortfall, the nation's primary retirement system continues to pay full benefits. We show you how to make the most of yours.

Editor's Note: The original version of this story included information on the "do-over" strategy. That strategy was eliminated by the Social Security Administration several months after the original story was published and has been deleted from this version. Read Social Security Eliminates Payback Option to learn more.

It's official: High unemployment and a resulting decline in payroll-tax collections have taken a toll on the Social Security program. Benefits will exceed revenues for the first time in 2010 -- six years ahead of previous projections -- according to the Social Security Trustees' 2010 report released Thursday. But the nation's vital retirement program is expected to slip back into the black -- at least temporarily -- when the economy recovers, before posting increasingly larger deficits as more baby-boomers reach retirement age.

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Mary Beth Franklin
Former Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance