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Brandon Barile, CFP® CRPC®

Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits: Claiming Strategies

Social Security benefits serve as a critical component of many Americans' retirement income. Deciding when and how to claim these benefits can significantly impact your financial security in retirement. In this guide, we will explore the top Social Security claiming strategies to help you make informed decisions regarding your retirement.

Before delving into the main claiming strategies, it's essential to have a basic understanding of Social Security benefits. Social Security is a government program that provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. Your benefits are based on your earnings history and the age at which you choose to claim them.

  1. Full Retirement Age (FRA): Your full retirement age is the age at which you can receive your full Social Security benefit without any reduction. It varies depending on your birth year but typically falls between the ages of 65 and 67.
  2. Early Retirement: You can claim Social Security as early as age 62, but your benefits will be reduced if you do so before reaching your FRA.
  3. Delayed Retirement Credits: If you delay claiming benefits beyond your FRA, you'll receive delayed retirement credits.  These credits increase your benefit amount for each year you delay until age 70.

Now, let's explore the popular Social Security claiming strategies:

  1. Wait Until Full Retirement Age or Later

One of the most effective strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits is to delay claiming until your full retirement age or even later. By waiting, you can increase your monthly benefit significantly through delayed retirement credits.

For each year you delay beyond your FRA, your benefit will increase by about 8%. For example, if your age is 66 and you delay until age 70, your benefit will be approximately 32% higher. This strategy is particularly beneficial if you expect to live a long and healthy life.

  1. Coordinate Spousal Benefits

If you are married, you have the option to coordinate your Social Security claiming strategy with your spouse. This can be especially advantageous if there is a significant difference in your earnings records or ages.

One common strategy is the "file and suspend" technique, which involves one spouse filing for benefits at FRA but immediately suspending them. This allows the other spouse to claim spousal benefits while both spouses continue to earn delayed retirement credits.

  1. Claiming Based on Your Spouse's Earnings

If you have a lower earning history than your spouse, you can claim benefits based on your spouse's earnings record. This strategy is known as the "spousal benefit." You can receive up to 50% of your spouse's benefit amount if you claim at your FRA.

This approach can be particularly useful if you want to allow your own benefit to grow through delayed retirement credits while still receiving income from your spouse's earnings record.

  1. Survivor Benefit Planning

Survivor benefits are an essential consideration, especially for married couples. When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is eligible to receive the higher of their own benefit or their deceased spouse's benefit.

To maximize survivor benefits, the higher-earning spouse should consider delaying claiming benefits as long as possible. This ensures that the surviving spouse will receive the highest possible benefit.

  1. Be Mindful of Tax Implications

Social Security benefits may be subject to federal income tax, depending on your overall income. To minimize the tax impact, consider strategically timing other sources of income, such as retirement account withdrawals. Note that Roth IRA distributions are withdrawn tax free.

  1. Professional Guidance

Given the complexities of Social Security rules and the potential impact on your retirement income, it's advisable to consult with a financial advisor or retirement planner. They can help you analyze your unique financial situation and recommend the most suitable claiming strategy for your needs.

Resources for Further Reading

  1. Social Security Administration (SSA): The official SSA website ( provides comprehensive information about Social Security benefits, including calculators and online resources to help you plan your retirement.


Maximizing your Social Security benefits is crucial for a financially secure retirement. The best claiming strategy for you will depend on various factors, including your marital status, earnings history, health, and financial goals. It's essential to carefully evaluate your options and consider professional guidance to make informed decisions that will ensure a comfortable and financially stable retirement. By choosing the right Social Security claiming strategy, you can make the most of this vital retirement resource.

 RockPort Global, LLC offers Securities through International Assets Advisory. LLC ("IAA") an Independent Registered Broker/Dealer - Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through International Assets Investment Management, LLC ("IAIM"). Form CRS – Member FINRA/SIPC Advisory services may be offered through International Assets Investment Management, LLC or Global Assets Advisory, LLC.  This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as a recommendation and is not intended to provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Strategies discussed herein may not be suitable or applicable for all investors. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Any information presented about tax considerations affecting client financial transactions or arrangements is not intended as tax advice and should not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any tax penalties. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.  

Information is believed to be reliable, however, neither such providers nor IAA make any guarantee and hereby expressly disclaim any responsibilities for accuracy or completeness. Information and expressions of opinions are subject to change without notice.

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