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This Trick Could Give You a Higher Social Security Benefit — Even If You Already Filed

There's a good chance you'll end up depending a lot on your Social Security benefits to cover your retirement expenses. Even if you bring a decent chunk of savings into retirement with you, that money may not last as long as you'd expect. Social Security, however, will pay you a monthly benefit for the rest of your life.

But what if you're not happy with what your monthly benefit looks like? If you filed for Social Security before reaching your full retirement age (FRA), you may have slashed your benefit substantially, leaving you with less monthly income to look forward to.

Generally speaking, the Social Security benefit you start off collecting is the same monthly benefit you can look forward to for life -- not counting the annual cost-of-living adjustments benefits are subject to. But if you employ one lesser-known trick, you can score yourself a higher monthly benefit -- even if you're already collecting Social Security.

Image source: Getty Images.

You get a second chance

It's a good idea to file for Social Security strategically to avoid regrets later on. But if you claimed benefits early and are now stuck with a lower monthly payment, there's one option you can look into.

If it's been less than 12 months since you filed for Social Security, you can undo your filing and sign up for Social Security again at a later point in time -- ideally, at FRA or beyond in order to snag a more generous payday. To pull this off, however, you'll also need to repay the Social Security Administration every dollar in benefits it paid you within 12 months of receipt.

If you've already spent your benefits and don't have any savings to pull from, this may not be an option. But if you still have that money and can send it back, you'll carve out an opportunity to claim Social Security at an age that will result in a higher monthly benefit for life. Keep in mind, though, that this second-chance option is something you can only take advantage of once in your lifetime.

So, say you file for benefits at age 62 and regret it six months later when you see how small those monthly checks are. You can, at that point, withdraw your claim and repay half a year's worth of Social Security payments. From there, you can wait until your FRA to file for a higher benefit (or choose another age that will produce a similar result).

It may not be too late to salvage your retirement

Locking in too low a Social Security benefit could be disastrous for your senior years -- especially if you don't have a lot of money sitting in your nest egg to supplement your Social Security income. If you filed for Social Security too soon, it pays to see if it's possible to pursue a do-over. Going this route could set you up for a more financially stable retirement and help you avoid a world of stress as you age and your nest egg dwindles down.

The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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