Money Matters: Maximize Social Security benefits

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 12/12/2012 9:53 am

For the 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, Social Security will account on average for 40 percent of their retirement income.

"The average savings in America is rather low. The economic crisis of 2008 really collapsed a lot of savings people had. Healthcare costs are expected to go up," said George Castineiras, Prudential Retirement Senior Vice President.

Castineiras said counting on Social Security is crucial.

"I know folks are considering that Social Security is going away so I'm not going to consider it. I encourage people to take a step back and recognize this is a benefit that's very important. It accounts for inflation and so many things that allow people to enjoy a well-deserved retirement," Castineiras said.  

There are two major things to consider.

"What are the different ages I can collect at and what benefit structures are available to me. Those two things will actually help you understand what choice is best for you," Castineiras said.  

One strategy to maximize monthly payments is to wait to take benefits for a few years.

"If you collect at 62, versus 70, that really more than doubles your Social Security benefit," Castineiras said.  

Also, get educated on different benefit structures available.

"If I'm going to take a spousal benefit, I'm going to delay my worker benefit until I'm age 70 and that has a dramatic impact on their lifetime income stream as well. So people don't recognize there's a different benefit other than the worker benefit, spousal in this case, and that they can convert it to a worker benefit down the road," Castineiras said. 

Because retirement planning is a highly personal calculation, Castineiras advises using online worksheets to estimate your egg nest.

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