3 Ways You Might Be Able to Boost Your Social Security Benefits in 2024

If you haven't filed for Social Security retirement benefits yet, there's an easy way to make the benefits you will receive higher. All you have to do is wait to claim the benefits. For most people, holding off until age 70 will pay off the most.

But what if you're already receiving Social Security benefits? Is it possible to increase how much you receive? In some cases, the answer is a resounding "yes." Here are three ways you might be able to boost your Social Security benefits in 2024.

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1. Verify earnings history

One thing that every retired worker who receives Social Security benefits should do is to verify your earnings history that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has on file. If you find an error, it's possible that correcting it could result in your retirement benefits being adjusted upward.

The Social Security benefits formula uses the 35 years when you made the most money. If SSA's earnings history is incorrect, it could be costing you.

It's important that you don't procrastinate in checking your earnings history, though. In many cases, you won't be able to correct your earnings after three years, three months, and 15 days from the end of the year in which the earnings were made. However, SSA does have a few exceptions to this rule. You can correct earnings records beyond this cutoff to:

  • Confirm earnings records with tax returns filed with the IRS.
  • Correct mistakes due to missing employer reports or omissions from filed employer reports.
  • Correct errors that SSA can identify by examining their records of processed reports.
  • Include any wages reported by an employer, but that don't show up in SSA's records.

2. Continue working if you claimed Social Security benefits early and can make more than you did earlier in your career

Many Americans choose to claim Social Security benefits before they reach full retirement age (FRA). If you're one of them, there is a way that you might be able to boost your retirement benefits.

As mentioned, SSA uses your 35 years with the highest earnings. If you can continue working and make more than you did earlier in your career, you can replace lower annual earnings from the past with a higher amount. This will cause your Social Security retirement benefit to be automatically recalculated.

Keep in mind, though, that if you make too much, SSA will withhold some of your benefits. In 2024, $1 in benefits for every $2 earned above $22,320 will be withheld. If you reach your FRA in 2024, $1 in benefits for every $3 earned above $59,520 will be withheld. The good news is that you will begin to get all withheld amounts back once you reach your FRA.

3. Cancel your application for Social Security benefits and wait until later

There is one other possibility for increasing your Social Security retirement benefits after you are already receiving them. You might be able to cancel your benefits application. You could then continue to work and wait until later to claim Social Security. The longer you wait (through age 70), the higher your benefit will be.

This option is only available if you applied for retirement benefits within the last 12 months. If you're in this window, you can mail a request to your local Social Security office to cancel your benefits application using Form 521 (which can be downloaded from SSA's website). Note that you will have to repay any money that you've previously received.

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