Are there Social Security strategies you can use to get more out of your Social Security benefits? Yes, but each only works if you fit a specific set of criteria. For, example, for the first two Social Security strategies below, you must be full retirement age (age 65-67 depending on your date of birth) for them to work.
In addition to reading about the strategies, consider trying a Social Security calculator that will show you the amount of money you might receive by using one strategy verses another.
Benefit: Spousal benefits are pretty simple. They allow your spouse to collect a benefit based on your earnings record while you continue to work, maximizing your own benefit by accumulating delayed retirement credits. Spousal benefits apply to ex-spouses too as long as you were married at least ten years.
Works if: You and your spouse have reached full retirement age.
Benefit: This strategy is often referred to as "file and suspend". It allows you to collect a spousal benefit while accumulating delayed retirement credits to maximize your own benefit.
Works if: You and your spouse have reached full retirement age and your spouse has applied for benefits.
Benefit: Social Security uses your highest thirty-five years of work history to calculate your Social Security retirement benefit. Make sure you have a full 35 years of work history to maximize your benefits.
Works if: You have less than 35 years of work history, or you have many low earning years listed in your 35 years, you are now earning more, and you can keep working so that some of your higher earning years will bump some of your lower earnings year off the top 35.
Benefit: Increase your Social Security retirement benefits by 25% or more by accumulating delayed retirement credits up until age 70.
Works if: You use this in combination with other strategies listed above and have a normal life expectancy. If you have health issues and think you may not live past 80 or so then this may not be a good strategy.