As you inch closer to retirement age, you might have financial concerns since you will no longer be receiving a steady income. You may wonder if you can live off your social security benefits alone.

Nine out of ten people over the age of 65 receive social security benefits with an average monthly payment of $1,262. While payments vary based on the situation, living solely off your social security payments may be difficult. Luckily, there are a few ways you may be able to increase your social security benefits.

Work for 35 years

Social security administrators will review your lifetime income when you submit your application. They will select 35 years where you earned the highest income to determine how much your payments should be. If you worked less than 35 years, the administration may factor each year of unemployment as having received $0 income. Not only can working at least 35 years likely increase your SS benefits but waiting to claim your benefits may also better the odds of receiving higher payments.

Wait to claim your benefits

Even though your benefits are based on your 35 highest-earning years, your age at the time of filing could have an effect as well. You can begin collecting payments at age 62. However, there will be a penalty for claiming early. If you wait until your full retirement age, you may be able to receive the full monthly benefit.

Waiting until you are 70 years old may maximize the amount of social security benefits you receive. For each year past your full retirement age, you could receive an eight percent increase in your payments. That could result in a 24 percent increase in total if your full retirement age is 67. There are no additional increases after reaching age 70.

Retirement is an exciting time in a person’s life, but it can be stressful if you are worried about your social security payments not being enough to get by. If you have any additional questions or would like to know more about social security benefits, consider speaking with a knowledgeable disability law attorney.