3 Social Security Moves to Make Before the End of the Year

If you’re nearing retirement, you may be thinking of claiming Social Security at some point in 2022. But even if that’s not at all your plan, it still pays to check these important Social Security tasks off your list before 2021 comes to an end.

1. Learn your full retirement age

The Social Security benefit you’re entitled to in retirement will be based on your earnings record — specifically, the amount of money you earn during your 35 highest-paid years in the workforce. Once you reach full retirement age, or FRA, you can receive your benefit in full.

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It’s important to know your FRA because you’re allowed to claim benefits before reaching it. In fact, you can sign up for Social Security as early as age 62. But for each month you file before FRA, your benefits will be reduced.

Knowing your FRA can help you better plan for retirement. And it can also prevent you from claiming benefits too soon. Here’s what your FRA looks like, depending on the year you were born:

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1943-1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 or later

67

Data source: Social Security Administration.

2. Estimate your future benefit

In the course of your retirement planning, it’ll help to know how much monthly income to expect from Social Security. As we just learned, benefits hinge on earnings, and also on when you file for them. But it may help to have a ballpark estimate of the monthly benefit you’re entitled to. And a great place to access that information is your annual earnings statement.

You can find your earnings statement by creating an account on SSA.gov — though if you’re 60 or older, you should be receiving those documents by mail.

One thing you should know is that the closer you are to retirement, the more accurate that estimate of your benefit will be. By contrast, if you’re in your 40s, the number you see on screen may be pretty off, because a lot could happen wage-wise between now and when you retire. But still, it never hurts to get an idea of the income you may be in line for.

3. Fight for a raise

What does getting a raise have to do with Social Security? A lot. The more money you earn in the course of your career, the higher a benefit you may be eligible for once you retire.

If your employer hasn’t offered up a raise going into 2022, you may need to be proactive about asking for one. Research salary date for your role and industry and see if you can make the case for more money. Remember, a lot of companies are dealing with labor shortages these days, and so your employer may be more flexible in the salary department than you’d expect.

Social Security may not be the sort of thing you think about unless you’re on the cusp of retirement. But it’s still a good idea to know your FRA, estimate your future paycheck, and keep fighting for higher earnings in the hopes of one day being in line for a more generous benefit.

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