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Protecting Your Retirement with Social Security Planning

Protecting Your Retirement with Social Security Planning

Retirement planning is not just about saving; it’s about protecting yourself from unforeseen circumstances. When it comes to retirement income, Social Security is a critical component of most Americans’ retirement plans. Social Security benefits provide a guaranteed stream of income that can help sustain retirees throughout their golden years. However, few people understand how to maximize their Social Security benefits and protect their retirement income. In this article, we will discuss what Social Security is, how it works, and how you can utilize it to protect your retirement income.

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a federal government program that provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to eligible individuals. The program was set up in 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Social Security is funded by payroll taxes, which are deducted from workers’ paychecks. The money collected is then used to fund benefits for retirees, disabled individuals, and survivors of deceased workers.

How Does Social Security Work?

Social Security benefits are calculated based on your earnings history. When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn Social Security credits. The number of credits you need to collect benefits depends on your birth year. In 2021, you can earn one credit for every $1,470 in earnings, up to a maximum of four credits per year. Once you have earned 40 credits, you are eligible for retirement benefits.

Your Social Security retirement benefit is based on your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your AIME based on your 35 highest-earning years. Then, they apply a formula to determine your primary insurance amount (PIA), which is the monthly benefit you would receive at your full retirement age (FRA). Your FRA is based on your birth year and ranges from 66 to 67. You can claim benefits as early as age 62, but your monthly benefit will be reduced. Alternatively, you can delay claiming up to age 70, which will increase your monthly benefit.

Social Security Planning Strategies

To maximize your Social Security benefits and protect your retirement income, you need to plan strategically. Here are some planning strategies that can help you:

1. Delay Claiming Social Security Benefits

Delaying your Social Security benefits can increase your monthly benefit over time. If you delay your benefits beyond your FRA, your benefit will increase by 8% per year until age 70. For example, if your FRA is 66, and you delay benefits until age 70, you will receive a 32% increase in your monthly benefit.

2. Claim Spousal Benefits

If you are married, you may be eligible for spousal benefits. Spousal benefits are equal to 50% of your spouse’s PIA. If your own retirement benefits are less than 50% of your spouse’s PIA, you can claim a combination of spousal and retirement benefits that equal your full entitlement.

3. Claim Survivor Benefits

If your spouse passes away, you may be eligible for survivor benefits. Survivor benefits are equal to your spouse’s PIA, or the benefit your spouse would have received had they claimed benefits at their FRA. You can claim survivor benefits as early as age 60, but your benefit will be reduced. If you wait until your FRA, you will receive 100% of the benefit.

4. Work Longer

Working longer allows you to earn more credits that can increase your benefit. Additionally, working longer can help you delay claiming benefits, allowing your benefit to grow over time.

5. Have a Plan for Long-Term Care

Long-term care can be expensive and impact your retirement income. Having a plan for long-term care can help protect your retirement income. Consider purchasing long-term care insurance or setting aside funds specifically for long-term care expenses.


Social Security is a critical component of most Americans’ retirement plans. Maximizing your Social Security benefits and protecting your retirement income requires careful planning and consideration. By understanding how Social Security works and implementing planning strategies, you can protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances and secure a comfortable retirement.


1. What happens if I claim Social Security benefits before my full retirement age?

If you claim benefits before your FRA, your monthly benefit will be reduced. The amount of the reduction will depend on how early you claim benefits.

2. Can I work while receiving Social Security benefits?

Yes, you can still work while receiving Social Security benefits. However, if you are under your FRA and earn over a certain limit, your benefits may be reduced. Once you reach your FRA, there is no earnings limit.

3. What is the difference between retirement benefits and survivor benefits?

Retirement benefits are benefits paid to individuals who have reached their FRA and have earned enough credits to be eligible for benefits. Survivor benefits are benefits paid to the surviving spouse or eligible dependents of a deceased worker.

4. Can I change my Social Security benefits once I start receiving them?

You can change your Social Security benefits once, within the first 12 months of receiving benefits. However, if you choose to change your benefits, you may be required to repay any benefits you have already received.

5. Should I consider a professional financial advisor when planning my retirement income?

Yes, working with a financial advisor can help you develop a comprehensive retirement plan and identify strategies to maximize your income and protect your retirement savings.


  1. Social Security Administration. (2021). Benefit calculators. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. News & World Report. (2021). How to Maximize Social Security Benefits. Retrieved from
  3. CNBC. (2020). How to protect your Social Security benefits from cuts. Retrieved from
  4. The Motley Fool. (2021). 5 Social Security Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Benefits. Retrieved from

Protect Your Retirement with Social Security Planning



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