You can boost your earnings by improving job skills, making sure you’re paid what you’re worth by negotiating when hired or during performance reviews, or working a second job.
2. Put in more than 35 years on the job
No matter how many years you work, Social Security benefits are always calculated based on your 35 highest earning years.
If you have a higher (inflation-adjusted) salary at the end of your career than at any earlier point, it can pay to work longer.
For each year you work at that higher earning level, your current larger wage replaces a lower-earning year when your benefits are calculated. If you’re earning a lot later in life, you can push out years of lower wages and give your average a big boost.
3. Coordinate with your spouse
Married couples need a joint Social Security strategy. That’s because there are dozens of different approaches they could take to claiming benefits.
For example, if only one spouse earned enough to claim Social Security benefits, the other could get spousal benefits — but only after the spouse with the income starts receiving checks. That higher-earning spouse may decide to claim benefits at a younger age so spousal benefits can begin ASAP.
Or a higher earner may want to delay claiming their own benefits because doing so would leave more survivor benefits for a widow(er). In that case, the spouse who earned less may want to start their checks first to provide the couple income while the higher earner lets their benefits grow.