These Social Security claiming strategies can grow retirement checks

There is a penalty if you collect retirement benefits and continue to work, depending on your age.

If you are under full retirement age, the limit for 2018 is $17,040. For every $2 you earn above that threshold, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefit payments.

In the year you reach full retirement age, that limit is $45,360 in 2018. For every $3 above that amount, $1 is deducted from your checks.

Starting from the month you reach full retirement age, you are no longer subject to earnings restrictions.

Those rules may discourage some couples — particularly where there’s an older, higher-earning individual and a younger, lower-earning person — to both file for benefits.

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However, it pays to double check as to whether the younger spouse would benefit from claiming, Elsasser said.

“Even if they’re over the $17,000 threshold for the earnings test, it’s worth exploring whether the combination of their own benefit, plus the benefit that would be paid to their spouse, would overcome the earnings penalty throughout the course of the year,” Elsasser said.

In this example, the Social Security Administration may tell you you’re earning too much. In that case, Elsasser said, be sure to ask some key questions.

“They need to push and say, ‘Would all of my checks be eliminated, or just some of them? Even when you account for the spousal benefit and my spouse can claim on my work?'” Elsasser said.

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