4. Develop a strategy for claiming Social Security

social security cards

If you're like most seniors, Social Security will come to provide a large portion of your retirement income. But while your benefits themselves are calculated based on how much you earn during your career, the age at which you first file for them can cause that number to go up, go down, or stay the same. That's why it's important to create a strategy for claiming benefits rather than go in blind.

For example, if you file for benefits at your full retirement age, which is either 66, 67, or 66 and a certain number of months, you'll get the full monthly benefit you're entitled to based on your work history.

If you delay past full retirement age, your benefits will get a boost. And if you file before full retirement age, you'll face a reduction in benefits, but you'll also get your money sooner.

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a filing age, but what you should do is know your full retirement age and understand the consequences of claiming benefits at various points in time.

First published December 6, 2018: 4:07 PM ET

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