3 Ways to Boost Your Social Security Benefits if You're Single

Though single folks get the benefit of calling the shots and getting to live life on their own terms, they are at a key disadvantage when it comes to Social Security. That's because singles only get one source of Social Security income to rely on in retirement, whereas married couples get to collect either two separate payments based on individual earnings records, or one earnings-based payment and one spousal benefits payment.

Single earners might also have a harder time saving during their working years, and as such, they often retire with less in savings than married folks. In fact, 43% of singles aged 65 and over depend on Social Security to provide 90% or more of their income.

It's for these reasons single folks need to be extra vigilant about getting the most out of Social Security. Here are a few tips for boosting your benefits and ensuring a healthier income stream in retirement.

1. Work longer

Your Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest years of earnings. Now if you're like most people, you probably started out making less money and eventually worked your way up. Therefore, if you reach your peak earnings when you're older, and can hold that same position for a few extra years, you'll boost your benefits by virtue of replacing some lower-earning years with higher earnings.

Here's an example. Let's say that of your 35 highest years of earnings, you made $40,000 for three of those years. Let's also say you're making $100,000 now. If you replace three years of a $40,000 salary with three more years of $100,000, you'll wind up with a higher total of eligible earnings, and thus a higher payout.

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