4 Ways to Get More from Your Social Security Benefit

I’ve written in the past about what an incredible benefit Social Security is for retirees. In a previous article, I didn’t pull any punches in calling social security “America’s most important retirement plan.”

There are a lot of reasons why. First, basic eligibility is easy to achieve for most Americans able to work. Second, it’s an income stream guaranteed by the US government. Third, it pays a benefit to spouses who haven’t worked or who have worked too little to earn their own benefit. Fourth, it increases with the cost of living over time.

While most of us are aware of the benefits of Social Security, I find that fewer people know how to get the most income from it. Here are four primary ways to get the most from your Social Security benefit.

Investing Basics Everyone Should Understand

When I graduated from college, I felt like I was on my way to knowing everything about investing. I had taken several courses teaching deep investment analysis; crunching data in large, complex spreadsheets.

As I’ve continued to learn, I have realized (and extensive, academic research has confirmed) smart investing isn’t nearly as complex as it’s made out to be. Anyone can do it themselves, if they learn a few guiding principles.

When a Ponzi Scheme Hits Home

Shortly after returning from my missionary service in 2001, I was approached by a man who said he was experiencing some car troubles and needed a ride. I truly learned to love people on my mission, so I happily offered to help.

While I was driving, the man revealed his true “story.” What he really wanted was money. He needed a certain part to fix his car and he knew how much it was, he just didn’t have the money to get it done. I was reluctant but he was insistent, showing me his ID and giving me his address; begging and pleading. So I stopped at an ATM, took out some cash, and gave it to him along with my number to call once he could pay me back. I think it was around $180. No small sum for a broke, college-bound returned missionary.