The conventional wisdom is to wait and not claim Social Security benefits until you are over 66 (the full retirement age for individuals born between 1943 and 1954). Full retirement age is calculated by year of birth. To see what your full retirement age is click here, or review the website maintained by the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov). The reason choosing when to begin claiming Social Security benefits is a big decision that will impact the size of your monthly benefit amount or checks for the rest of your life. For example, if you have a full retirement age of 67 and wait until age 70 to begin claiming Social Security benefits, you’ll receive your full benefit amount plus an extra 24% each month for the rest of your life.
Delaying benefits however isn’t right for everyone, and it may make sense for you to claim your benefits as early as possible, or age 62, (the earliest retirement age for individuals born between 1943 and 1954). Again, to determine when you can claim your benefits, click here. Three reasons why claiming your retirement benefits through the Social Security program may be right for you are as follows:
- Your retirement years are limited.
The Social Security break-even age varies by individual (because it is based on your retirement age). The break-even age is the age at which the total amount you’ve received by delaying benefits surpasses the total amount you would have received by claiming earlier. For individuals that expect to live longer than their early to mid-80s, it makes sense to delay benefits, and through their lifetime stand to receive more benefits than if they have claimed earlier. For individuals that do not have a long life-expectancy, because of a chronic medical condition, for example, claiming benefits early is a better decision.
- You want extra money in your retirement nest egg.
If you can meet your retirement living expenses with your other retirement accounts (401k, pension, annuity, IRA, etc.), tapping into your social security benefits, even if early, brings extra income to your retirement nest egg.
- You are married and you and your spouse have created a claiming strategy to maximize your monthly benefit amount.
Some married couples decide that the lower-earning spouse should claim early, so the two of you have some extra money to spend right away in retirement, while the higher-earning spouse delays benefits and earns those bigger checks when the higher-earning spouse claims benefits after the full-retirement age. Another plan that may work for you and your spouse, if one spouse is a few years older than the other and you’ve decided to retire and claim benefits at the same time, the younger spouse may claim early.