How to Increase Your Social Security Benefits

Waiting until after your full retirement age to claim benefits will boost your payouts.

How much extra money can I get each year if I delay taking my Social Security benefits?

Delaying your Social Security benefits beyond your full retirement age is a great way to boost your annual payouts for life.

You can start receiving payouts as early as age 62, but your annual benefits will be about 25% less than if you wait until full retirement age to start receiving payouts (if you were born from 1943 to 1954, your full retirement age is 66; the age gradually increases to 67, for people born in 1960 or later).

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Every year after your full retirement age that you wait to claim benefits will boost your annual payouts by another 8%, until you reach age 70.

Waiting to take benefits at age 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66, and 76% more than taking them at age 62. You need to consider your life expectancy when deciding when to take benefits, but if you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and live past age 82 or so, you’ll receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you wait until full retirement age (and your spouse can benefit, too, if you wait to take benefits).

For more information about making the most of your Social Security decisions, see our Maximizing Social Security Special Report and Strategies to Boost Your Social Security, which includes special ways to coordinate your benefits with your spouse. To get a personalized recommendation, go to Kiplinger’s Social Security Solutions.

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.