Learn the basics of Social Security, and understand strategies to maximize your benefits. The decisions you make now can have a tremendous impact on the total amount of benefits you stand to receive over your lifetime. Examine the five factors to consider when deciding when to apply for benefits. Research when it makes sense to delay benefits and when it does not. Know why you should always check your earnings record for accuracy. Learn how to estimate your benefits, coordinate them with your spouse, minimize taxes and coordinate Social Security with your other sources of retirement income.