Today, the average senior on Social Security receives $1,543 per month. When combined with withdrawals from a retirement plan or ongoing pension payments, that could provide a very nice lifestyle.

However, many people do not retire with a large sum of money or receive pension income, and if you are behind in your savings, it is especially important that you get as much money out of Social Security as possible. Here are three popular methods for doing so.

Your Social Security benefit is calculated based on how much you were paid during your most productive 35 years of employment. But it also means that if you don’t work for the full 35 years, you’ll have a figure of $0 factored into your personal benefit equation for each year you’re not working.

A good way to increase your benefit is to ensure that you have worked for at least 35 years. Those years don’t have to be consecutive, and gig and freelance work count, so there’s some leeway. Part-time work also counts if you’re nearing the end of your career and can’t continue working full-time. You can try to improve your job skills and pursue promotions at work, but your wages may eventually stagnate despite your best efforts. However, the more money you earn during your career, the greater your Social Security benefit. That’s why a second job, whether it’s consulting in your full-time field on the side, starting a crafting business, or driving for a rideshare company, could be beneficial.

Once you reach full retirement age, you are entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit based on your wage history. That age is not universal; it is determined by your birth year. You are not required to claim benefits at your full retirement age. The Social Security Administration will allow you to file for benefits as early as age 62, but doing so will reduce your benefit.

If, on the other hand, you delay filing past full retirement age, your benefit will increase by 8% for each year you wait (or about 2/3 of 1% per month) until you reach the age of 70. This means that if you reach full retirement age at 67, you can increase your benefit by up to 24%. Oh, and that increase will be in effect for the rest of your life, ensuring you a higher income stream in retirement. Whether you end up relying heavily on Social Security as a senior or use your benefits to supplement other income streams, making the most of the program is worthwhile. These suggestions may be your ticket to a more generous benefit – and more financial freedom later in life.

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on retirement savings. However, a few little-known “Social Security secrets” could help you increase your retirement income. For example, one simple trick could earn you up to $16,728 more per year! We believe that if you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, you will be able to retire confidently and with the peace of mind that we all seek.