Advertisement
social security

Best Social Security Strategies for Singles

There are steps singles can take to boost their benefits.

Considering all the ways couples can boost their benefits, you may feel forsaken by the system if you're single. But although you have fewer options than your married friends, you can still take steps to increase your lifetime benefits.

Single retirees who never married don't need to concern themselves with survivor benefits -- benefits will end when they do. That gives single beneficiaries a less compelling reason to postpone claiming benefits after full retirement age, says Marc Kiner, co-founder of Premier Social Security Consulting in Sharonville, Ohio. But suppose you're healthy and want to postpone taking benefits so you can earn delayed-retirement credits. You should still file at 66 and ask Social Security to suspend your benefits.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Here's why: Ordinarily, Social Security will pay no more than six months' worth of benefits retroactively (and it won't pay any retroactive benefits for months before you've reached full retirement age.) But if you file and suspend at age 66, you're eligible to collect all of the benefits that accumulate after you file your claim. That could provide a significant cash reserve for unexpected expenses, such as a catastrophic illness or long-term care.

This strategy also reduces the risk that you'll die before you've had an opportunity to take advantage of delayed credits, says William Reichenstein, professor of finance at Baylor University and a principal with consulting firm Social Security Solutions. Suppose a single woman is eligible for full retirement benefits of $2,500 a month at age 66 but decides to delay taking benefits until age 70. At age 68 1/2, she is diagnosed with cancer and told she has two years to live. If she had filed and suspended her benefits at age 66, she would be eligible for 30 months of retroactive benefits, for a total of $75,000. (Kiplinger has partnered with Social Security Solutions to offer a tool to uncover the most advantageous time to start collecting your benefits; visit www.kiplinger.socialsecuritysolutions.com for details.)

BEST STRATEGIES FOR: Married Couples | Divorced | Widowed

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Smart Buying

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
September 17, 2020
Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans
taxes

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans

With the economy in trouble, tax policy takes on added importance in the 2020 presidential election. So, let's take a look at what Joe Biden has said …
September 18, 2020
7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic
careers

7 Foreign Countries Luring Americans to Work Abroad During the Pandemic

Work remotely – really remotely – in these appealing destinations offering special visas for American workers.
September 18, 2020

Recommended

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online
retirement

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online

Why visit a government office to get your Social Security business done? You can do much of that online.
June 26, 2020
What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You
Tax Breaks

What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You

President Trump issued an executive order to suspend the collection of Social Security payroll taxes. How much could it save you?
September 17, 2020
Uncle Sam’s Bite of Social Security
Financial Planning

Uncle Sam’s Bite of Social Security

Retirement surprise: As much as 85% of Social Security benefits are subject to tax when provisional income exceeds $34,000 on a single return or $44,0…
September 10, 2020
Qualifying for Social Security Spousal and Survivor Benefits
social security

Qualifying for Social Security Spousal and Survivor Benefits

A guide for spouses, ex-spouses, widows and widowers on their Social Security benefits and how to make the most of them.
September 8, 2020