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Think you’re too young to be thinking about Social Security Benefits?  Wrong – your Social Security benefit is one of your most valuable financial assets, and it must be managed.

Get it wrong – and you can cost yourself well over $100,000 in lifetime benefits.  Here are five ideas:

  1. Your benefit is based on your 35 highest earning years.  So it may make sense to work another year or two so some of those low-wage burger-flipping years fall out of the calculation.
  2. Learn about two extremely important filing options; “file and suspend” and “file restricted.”  Each can significantly enhance your lifetime benefit.
  3. Full Retirement Age for most people is 66.  File before that – and your benefit can be reduced by as much as 30%.  However Uncle Sam will increase your benefit by 8% each year you wait between 66 and 70.
  4. Couples have 81 different possible filing combinations, and only one will maximize your outcome.  Have a retirement income-planning expert pinpoint your sweet spot.
  5. Up to 85% of your benefits can be taxed based on your “other” income.  The taxable threshold is shockingly low – $32,000 for couples.  For most, that means interest, dividends, pensions, and earnings on investment assets.  Consider moving money into cash-value life insurance for example.  You get the double benefit of drawing tax-free income from it – and protect your SSI benefit from tax exposure.  But you have to plan ahead.

Start planning at age 50.  Find a good advisor who will help you navigate your personal finances to yield the greatest benefit using these strategies and others.