5 Social Security tips you need to know for 2018

Social Security might seem like the highway to a comfortable retirement, but the program is uncharted territory for most. Instead of leaping blindly into your golden years, learn some valuable tips to make the most of your Social Security benefits.

Click through to learn these scary facts you need to know about Social Security.

Tip No. 1: Don’t Depend on Social Security Alone

Even though Social Security is a nice buffer, don’t rely on it as a retirement crutch. The program was never laid out to be the sole income for retirees, so take the advice straight from the source: the Social Security Administration. According to the SSA, the benefit replaces roughly 40 percent of the typical wage earner’s income, and retirees usually require 70 percent or more of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably.

Tip No. 2: Higher Earners Need to Save More

Not all Social Security checks are created equal — and lower earners typically see larger income replacement rates than their higher-earning counterparts.

If your wallet has always seemed a bit more flush, make sure that piggy bank stays stuffed in accordance to your area’s cost of living and desired quality of life in retirement.

RELATED: Take a look at these 13 U.S. states that tax Social Security income:

Tip No. 3: Be Sure to Work Long Enough to Earn Benefits

In order to get your Social Security benefits, you need to put in your time — a minimum of a decade, that is. In order to qualify, workers need to put in at least 40 quarters — or 10 years — of Social Security wages.

Tip No. 4: Choose a Community With a Low Cost of Living

Even though your community might have been a perfect place to raise your family, it might not be the best fit for retirement. If the cost of living in your area is skyrocketing, it might be time to think about a relocation to a place where you could potentially live on Social Security benefits alone.

Tip No. 5: Think Twice Before You Retire Abroad

Many retirees dream of the ex-pat life, leaving behind the Red, White and Blue for some greener pastures and new adventures. Even though many countries have low costs of living, be realistic — do you really want to learn a new language and adjust to a new culture that late in life?

Click through to keep reading about must-know Social Security tips for 2018.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Social Security Tips You Need to Know for 2018