When to Take Social Security

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Are you unsure of when to take Social Security? As you navigate your benefits, it may be worthwhile to consider delaying as opposed to taking Social Security at 62, when it becomes available to you.

It’s tempting to take the Social Security benefit immediately. That’s especially true if you’re no longer working and don’t have a steady income as a result. It may provide some peace of mind and make the transition into retirement more comfortable.

However, experts often recommend holding off on Social Security. That’s because the longer you wait, the more your monthly benefit increases. In fact, each year past your full retirement age that you wait to apply for Social Security, your monthly benefit goes up by 8%.

What is Full Retirement Age for Social Security?

Full retirement age is the age at which you first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. It’s not the same for everyone, as it depends on your date and year of birth.

Consider this example from The New York Times and the Social Security Administration on when to take Social Security. Someone who works for 40 years with a final salary of $80,000 would see the following benefits at the corresponding ages:

– $1,455 at age 62

– $2,074 at 66 (full retirement age)

– $2,833 at 70

“The terms for these deferrals began to be designed in the mid-1950s, and mortality was so different and interest rates were so different then,” John Shoven, a Stanford University economics professor and Social Security expert, told The New York Times. “What was a fair deal when it was introduced is really an outrageously good deal now.”

Despite this, the majority of retirees don’t take advantage of deferral. In 2016, about one-third applied for Social Security as soon as they turned 62. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of new Social Security recipients that year began taking benefits before their full retirement age.

Of course, it’s not always advised to wait until 70 for Social Security benefits. Certain circumstances require taking them earlier, such as not having resources to cover expenses or having serious medical issues.

“You can’t know the ‘correct’ decision unless you know when you’re going to die,” said Kurt Czarnowski, a Social Security Administration communications director turned retirement consultant. “So you have to make an informed decision factoring in items you do know – things like your health and financial situation.”