Social Security Basics: 12 Things You Must Know to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

Claiming Social Security benefits at the right time means more money for you. Here’s a guide to everything from knowing your retirement age to spousal benefits.

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When you’re years away from retirement, Social Security seems straightforward: You’ll leave your job, file for benefits and receive a monthly check for the rest of your life – boom! But in reality, getting the most out of Social Security is anything but simple. As you near retirement, the decisions you make could have a significant impact on the amount of money you receive, and some of these choices are irrevocable. You’ll need to move carefully to maximize this income stream.

Here are 12 essential details you need to know:

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Donna LeValley
Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation. 

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