Making the Most of Social Security Retirement Income Strategies

by Lauren Beichner

Marketing Specialist


The number of Americans collecting Social Security benefits is expected to grow from about 64 million today to 84 million by 20351. With an eye-opening statistic like that, it's critical that you learn as much as you can about Social Security so that they you can achieve the long-term financial stability that you are aiming for. 

It's important to recognize that there isn't a one size fits all method when it comes to social security. Making the most of your retirement income will vary from person to person based on your unique financial situation. To help you along your financial journey to retirement, here are the top things you need to know about social security. 

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Benefits? 

Generally, a worker who has accumulated a minimum of 40 work credits (about ten years of work) is eligible for social security benefits. Your social security benefit is based on an average of the highest 35 years of earnings in which the worker paid payroll taxes. 

When Can I Claim Social Security Benefits? 

Benefits are based on the age when you claim them. The earliest you can claim your benefits is age 62. Once you reach full retirement age, which is 66-67, you can access your full benefits. The latest you can delay your social security benefits is age 70.

Where Can I Find My Social Security Statement? 

To determine the potential benefits you might receive, you should look at your Social Security Statement. Your Statement summarizes the social security benefits that you'll receive. You can view your Statement online by creating your own personal account on the Social Security website at

Will Claiming Age Affect My Lifetime Benefits? 

Yes! By delaying when you claim your benefits, you might increase not only your monthly benefits but also your lifetime benefits, depending on how long you live. 

When Can I Qualify For Spousal Benefits? 

You must be age 62 or older to qualify for spousal benefits. Additionally, you must have been married for at least one year and your spouse must first file for social security benefits. 

What Do I Need To Know About Survivor Benefits? 

If you are eligible to receive a survivor benefit as well as a benefit based on your own work history, you might compare the two claiming strategies to determine which one might enhance the total benefits you could receive. For example, if your spouse died at a young age, you could start receiving survivor benefits as early as age 60. But you won’t receive 100 percent of his or her basic benefit if you claim a survivor benefit before you reach full retirement age — the benefit will be permanently reduced to 71.5 percent to 99 percent of the basic benefit.

Consider what the survivor benefit would be if you claimed it early or if you waited until you reach full retirement age. Then compare it to the retirement benefit you might receive based on your own work history and determine which one makes the most sense. 

How Would A Divorce Impact My Benefits? 

As a divorced spouse, you may be entitled to social security benefits based on your spouse's work record if: 

Key Takeaways

The decisions you make now could drastically affect your retirement lifestyle which is why it's so important to seek advice from a professional to ensure you are going in the right financial direction. Connect with a CFS* Financial Advisor to schedule your complimentary retirement plan review. We can assess your current retirement income strategies to see if you are on track to meeting your financial goals. 

Be sure to watch our video above presented by CFS Financial Advisor, Jonah Kaufman, to learn more about how to make the most of your social security benefits. 

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*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor.  Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal.  Investment Representatives are registered through CFS.  Coastal Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

Trust services available through MEMBERS Trust Company.  CFS and Coastal Credit Union are not affiliated with Members Trust Company.

1. Source: Social Security Administration, 2019