Money Matters: How to maximize Social Security benefits

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 11/06/2013 10:44 am
Social Security recipients will get a benefit increase next year, but it won't be much. 

"It's going to be about a 1.5 percent increase next year. That's the lowest, since they've been making automatic adjustments, since 1975," Curtis Blair, Financial Professional and Blair Group CEO said. 

Blair said that small increase will be difficult for seniors who took a big hit when the markets collapsed a few years ago. 

"The average check in social security is about 1,162 dollars, so that 1.5 percent increase is only about 17 dollars and that's very unsubstantial for a lot of people," Blair said.  

However, there are ways to maximize Social Security benefits. 

"One of them is called a File and Suspend. This is ideal for spouses where one has had a larger wage earning base. That spouse can file for Social Security then immediately suspend that benefit while the other spouse can file and immediately start getting spousal benefits," Blair said.  

Another approach is called Uncle Sam Pays Alimony.

"If you were married for at least 10 years and you're divorced, you can file on the ex-spouse's Social Security without affecting that spouse's Social Security," Blair said.  

Another method is simply being patient. 

"If you file early at 62, you're going to lose about 25 percent of your Social Security benefit. If you wait until full retirement age, you'll get full benefits. If you'll delay it from 66 to 70 you'll get an eight percent increase every year," Blair said.  

Blair said current recipients should feel secure, but the future of Social Security looks grim. 

"According to OASDI, which is a government accounting arm, they say the benefits will be paid until 2033. But, there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day in the country and with an increasing debt of 17 to 20 trillion dollars in the future, there clearly is trouble ahead for the system," Blair said.  

For younger working families, that means relying on a plan b. 

"What we recommend to our younger clients, people under 55, is don't depend on Social Security. Develop a plan, you and your spouse, and then stick with that plan like there's no Social Security tomorrow," Blair said.  

For more information on how to make alternative plans to Social Security, visit The Blair Group website. 

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