So, when should you begin taking Social Security?
It is a question that does not have a standard, “one size fits all” answer, particularly given that you can begin taking benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70. While the subject can justify an extended examination of all of the factors that should be weighed, a recent article over at Fox Business does a good job in describing the key considerations to be evaluated when making this important decision.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to wait is that your checks will be bigger. Although “full retirement age,” which refers to the age at which a person can be taking Social Security and receive full benefits, is presently 66, for every year beyond that age one puts off beginning taking Social Security, their check increases by about 8 percent per year. This means that a retiree who waits until 70 to begin taking Social Security will see a check that’s 32 percent higher than it would be if he or she began taking “full benefits” at 66.
The other notable reason to begin taking Social Security later is that you have little set aside in the way of retirement savings. By working longer and delaying Social Security withdrawals, you can kill two birds with one stone: You give yourself more time to put money away in savings, and the delay in ceasing work and accessing Social Security ensures your benefit will be as high as possible.
As to the reasons why you would hit up Social Security earlier, they are also clear and easily-understood. First and foremost, you would do so if you simply need the money. With Americans continuing to struggle to set aside much in the way of savings, there is nothing unusual about lots of folks needing to pull the trigger on benefits simply in order to stay afloat. While many in that position are ideally well-served by working later, that is not always an option. Contractions in the workplace, as well as unforeseen health issues, can prove to be tough obstacles for those who would like to put off retirement until much later.
The other, prominent reason to start taking benefits earlier is if you have a real concern that you simply won’t live terribly long. If you just don’t see yourself living into your 80’s, it may be wise to start collecting benefits earlier so that you can receive, in total, more than you likely would otherwise.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large