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How to Boost Your Social Security Check by 76%

It’s the most consequential math problem many Americans face, 50-some years after they last sat in a classroom sweating over algebra and arithmetic. The question is the optimal time to file for Social Security benefits, and the answer can add or subtract hundreds or thousands of dollars from monthly checks.

The decision is complicated by thousands of Social Security rules and permutations in how couples can take benefits. To help, financial firms are building more sophisticated online tools to help clients test out filing strategies. Insurance company Nationwide Financial unveiled a new tool for advisers late last month. Online investment adviser Financial Engines just made a free Social Security planner available on its site.