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Social Security benefits can be a lifeline in retirement, bridging the gap between what you have saved and what you need to afford a comfortable lifestyle.
However, many retirees may be unknowingly sabotaging their monthly checks. Approximately 37% of baby boomers say they expect Social Security to be their primary source of income in retirement, according to a report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. If you have similar plans, it’s especially important to ensure you’re aware of a few of the ways you could potentially lose your benefits.
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1. Working fewer than 35 years
To qualify for Social Security benefits, you typically have to have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years. However, if you’ve worked fewer than 35 years by the time you begin claiming benefits, you could receive smaller checks.
The Social Security Administration calculates your basic benefit amount — or the amount you’ll receive by claiming at your full retirement age — by taking an average of your income over the 35 highest-earning years of your career and then adjusting it for inflation.
If you haven’t worked a full 35 years, you’ll have zeros added to your equation to account for the years you …
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