Maximizing your Social Security benefits: a comprehensive guide

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 14, 2024

Learn how to improve Social Security benefits for a more comfortable retirement in the US.


  • US citizens qualify for Social Security benefits after reaching the age of 66 years and two months. 

  • The higher your retirement age, the higher your benefits will be. 

  • Knowing how to calculate taxable Social Security benefits is an effective way to secure your retirement. 

  • Finding a professional financial advisor will help to set you up for a more secure retirement.  

What are Social Security benefits? 

Social Security benefits are monthly payments made to qualified retired individuals or people with disabilities who cannot support themselves or their families.  

You can qualify for retirement Social Security benefits by working, earning, and contributing to the program during your working years. The minimum Social Security benefits you receive are determined based on factors such as occupation, contributions, age, and health status.  

Strategizing to maximize benefits is an effective way to get the most out of your Social Security package and enjoy a more comfortable, secure retirement as you live out your golden years.  

How are Social Security benefits calculated? 

To calculate taxable Social Security benefits for every applicable citizen, the State Security Agency (SSA) takes several factors into account, including earnings history, age at retirement, and work credits. 

The SSA uses a formula to determine what your Social Security benefit should be. It combines your age, earnings, retirement date, and other personal data to ascertain your compensation level.  

What is the minimum Social Security benefit? 

The minimum Social Security benefit you can receive as a qualified retiree ranges between $50.90 and $1,066.50 per month as of 2024.  

The minimum benefit provides primary insurance for low-income workers or retirees who have yet to contribute as many working years to the SSA program.  

What is the maximum Social Security benefit? 

The maximum Social Security benefit you can receive depends greatly on your circumstances.  

The amount is relational, meaning that it is determined by various factors—amounts change drastically from one person to the next.  

If you retire at full retirement age (66 years and two months) in 2024, your maximum benefit will be $3,822. However, if you retire earlier, say, at 62 in 2024, your maximum benefit will be $2,710. If you wait until 70 to retire, your maximum benefit will reach $4,873 per month.  

What are the top strategies to increase your Social Security benefits? 

Early retirement can offer many benefits, but it comes with financial drawbacks. Retiring before the full retirement age reduces your Social Security benefits.  

Raising your retirement age results in a higher monthly payout, making a late retirement one of the best strategies for how to improve Social Security benefits.  

Can you work while collecting Social Security? 

Yes, you can collect Social Security retirement and work at the same time. However, if you are under 66 years and two months old and earn more than certain amounts, your benefits will be reduced.  

What is a voluntary suspension of benefits? 

If you are a qualified retiree who is under 70 years old, you can voluntarily suspend your retirement benefits to increase future payments.  

During a voluntary suspension, you can earn delayed retirement credits, which boost your eventual benefit by two-thirds of 1% for every month you are suspended.  

Will I be taxed on Social Security benefits? 

Social Security benefits may be taxed depending on other income sources.  

The more external income sources you have and the higher they are, the more you will be taxed. However, there are strategies you can use to minimize taxes on benefits, including considerations for IRA withdrawals and state tax implications.  

There are 10 states that tax Social Security benefits, and Colorado only taxes benefits if those receiving the funds are under the age of 65. 

How do you maximize benefits for married couples? 

The maximum security benefit for a married couple largely depends on how long the spouse waits before collecting the benefits. It also depends on whether both spouses have reached the qualifying retirement age and how many years of combined contributions they have.  

Knowing how to better current Social Security benefits can be a useful strategy for retiring in heightened, more sustainable comfort with your partner.  

This can be achieved by applying for spousal benefits or survivor benefits or waiting to reach the qualifying retirement age before applying for benefits.  

Are there any special considerations for divorcees and widows? 

Divorced individuals may qualify for benefits based on their ex-spouse’s work record. If the divorcee or widow is over the age of 62 and has a child under the age of 16, the likelihood of receiving full Social Security benefits is high.  

If your ex-spouse or deceased partner had a disability or died in the military, survivor benefits and potential switching strategies become much easier to obtain.  

Get expert financial advice 

US citizens qualify for the minimum Social Security benefits from the age of 66 years and two months. However, there are ways to improve current Social Security benefits, and knowing how to do so can ensure a more secure and financially stable retirement.  

Learn more about how to improve Social Security benefits by getting matched with a financial advisor via Unbiased and plan a secure retirement for you and your loved ones.  


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.