Two reasons to get Social Security at 62 — and one reason to wait | Smart Change: Personal Finance
As you prepare for retirement, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is the age to start claiming Social Security benefits. The earliest age you can file for benefits is 62. This is also the most common age to begin claiming, with about 35% of men and about 40% of women receiving benefits at age 62, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong age to apply for Social Security, but there are advantages and disadvantages. There are a couple of scenarios you might want to claim as soon as possible, and one in which you might be better off waiting a few years.
When do you consider claiming at age 62
1. You want to retire early. You don’t necessarily have to start claiming benefits once you retire, but the two often work together. If you want to get a head start in retirement, it can be helpful to start getting Social Security early.
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It is possible to retire early but delay Social Security. However, you may need to rely on your savings or other sources of income in order to start receiving benefits. In many cases, draining your retirement fund too soon isn’t worth the increased benefits you receive on hold.
Likewise, if you are forced into early retirement (due to job loss, health issues, etc.), an early claim can provide an additional source of income. If money is tight and your savings are low, Social Security can go a long way.
2. You may have a shorter than average lifespan: In theory, the total amount you receive in benefits should be about the same, regardless of your age. If you claim early, you will receive smaller checks each month, but you will receive more of them over a lifetime. By waiting for a claim, you’ll earn larger payouts, but less overall.
The point at which the amount you receive by delaying benefits exceeds the amount you collect by enrolling early is called the “break-even age,” and for most adults, it will be somewhere in your late 70s or early 80s.
If you expect to live well into your 80s or later, you may get more over your lifetime if you delay Social Security. But if you have reason to believe you may not live to your late 70s, you may be better off claiming as soon as possible to maximize your benefits.
How long might you want to wait
1. You want to maximize your monthly income. One of the best reasons to consider delaying Social Security is to increase your monthly income. While the amount you receive over a lifetime should be roughly the same, regardless of when you claim, the amount of your monthly benefit will largely depend on the age at which you apply.
If you apply as soon as possible at age 62, the benefit amount will be reduced by up to 30%. But if you delay benefits (up to age 70), you’ll receive the full benefit amount (or the amount you’d collect by claiming at full retirement age) plus up to an additional 32% each month.
These benefit modifications are usually permanent as well. Once you start claiming, your benefit amount will be secured for the rest of your life (excluding annual cost-of-living adjustments). So if you delay benefits, you could get hundreds of extra dollars a month for the rest of your retirement.
Deciding what age to apply for Social Security isn’t easy, but it can have a big impact on your retirement. By making this decision carefully, you can head into your graduation years as prepared as possible.
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