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Social Security Q&A: Your Social Security benefits depend on the specifics Clients have to realize that there is no general rule to get the most of their Social Security benefits, which depends on their overall earnings and those of their current, ex or deceased spouses, as well as when they incurred these earnings, according to Forbes. This article features a widow who decides to take her retirement benefit first, with plans of switching to her survivor benefit when she hits full retirement age. The article then explains why such a strategy does not allow her to maximize her Social Security benefits based on her and her husband's earnings and the time they started earning.  --Forbes

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