The Best Age to Start Taking Social Security: It's Not What You Think
When you reach full retirement age (FRA), you can start taking Social Security benefits. But you may want to consider taking them sooner, even if it means a smaller monthly check. Here's why:
Your benefits will grow by 8% per year for each year you delay taking them, up to age 70.
So, if you wait until age 70 to take Social Security, you'll receive 32% more in benefits than if you had started taking them at FRA.
Of course, there's a catch: your benefits will also be reduced by 6.67% per year if you start taking them before FRA. So, if you start taking Social Security at age 62 (the earliest age you can), you'll receive 30% less in benefits than if you had waited until FRA.
So, when should you start taking Social Security? It depends on your individual circumstances. If you need the money now, then you may want to start taking benefits early, even if it means a smaller monthly check. But if you can afford to wait, then you'll receive more in benefits over the long term by delaying taking them.
Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
Your health: If you have health concerns, you may want to start taking Social Security early so that you have a guaranteed source of income.
Your financial situation: If you have enough savings and other sources of income, then you can afford to wait until age 70 to start taking Social Security to receive the highest possible benefits.
Your spouse's situation: If you're married, you may want to coordinate your Social Security benefits with your spouse. For example, if you're the higher earner, you may want to delay taking Social Security until age 70. Then, your spouse can file for spousal benefits on your record, and receive 50% of your benefit amount.
If you're still not sure when to start taking Social Security, you can use the Social Security Administration's online calculator to estimate your benefits at different ages. You can also talk to a financial advisor to get personalized advice.
Here are a few additional tips for taking Social Security:
If you're retired and still working: You may want to consider delaying taking Social Security until you stop working. That's because your Social Security benefits will be reduced if you earn more than a certain amount of money each year. In 2023, the annual earnings limit is $19,560 for people under age 66 and $51,960 for people age 66 and older.
If you're receiving survivor benefits: If you're a widow or widower, you may be eligible to receive survivor benefits on your spouse's Social Security record. You can start receiving survivor benefits as early as age 60, but your benefits will be reduced if you start taking them before FRA.
If you're receiving disability benefits: If you're receiving disability benefits, you can automatically switch to retirement benefits when you reach FRA. Your disability benefits will be converted to retirement benefits at the same level.
Taking Social Security is a complex decision, but it's an important one. By understanding the different factors involved, you can make the best decision for you and your family.