Insights

Why I’m Not Counting on a Higher Social Security Benefit

The amount of money you get from Social Security hinges on different factors. Those include the number of years you spend earning a paycheck, what your income looks like, and the age you decide to claim benefits at.

Meanwhile, some seniors make plans to delay their Social Security claims until age 70. Doing so means snagging a higher monthly benefit for life.

That’s something I’d like to do. But my retirement plans don’t hinge on it for one big reason.

Image source: Getty Images.

When life gets in the way

Recently, I had cleared up my schedule to spend an entire day hammering out articles in an effort to get ahead on work. Only instead, I wound up suffering from a health issue that landed me in the hospital for 24 hours. Needless to say, it was not the productive workday I’d hoped it would be.

Why am I sharing this story that clearly has nothing to do with Social Security? It’s simple. My point is that we can plan for certain things related to retirement and do our best to see those plans through. But sometimes, life just plain gets in the way.

That’s why as much as I’d like a higher Social Security benefit, I’m not assuming I’ll get one. Granted, I’m doing my best to continuously build skills in an effort to work as long as possible. That could make it possible for me to delay my filing to score the maximum monthly benefit my personal earnings history entitles me to.

But what if health issues get in the way of that plan, the same way they recently messed up what was supposed to be a really lucrative workday? For all I know, I’ll end up having to stop working well before age 70, to the point where I’m forced to claim Social Security early.

As such, I’m not planning for a higher Social Security benefit. Instead, I’m making every right now to max out my retirement savings plan every year. In fact, in addition to maxing out my solo 401(k), I also try to save money beyond that, which I then invest in a regular brokerage account.

Now as a self-employed writer, my income tends to be variable, and so my savings rate tends to follow suit. But I usually do a good job of saving a pretty large chunk of my income, no matter what it happens to be. And in doing so, I don’t have to stress out as much about the Social Security benefit I’m eventually entitled to collect.

Take control of your retirement

There are certain aspects of life that are just plain out of our control. And to some degree, Social Security may be one of them. And so a good bet is to maximize the savings opportunities you can control by pumping as much money as possible into your retirement plan. Doing so could make it so you’re able to fulfill your retirement goals even if your Social Security benefits aren’t as robust as you would’ve hoped they’d be.

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