Figuring out when to take Social Security is hard, and it has big consequences for your retirement. You can start receiving your benefits starting at age sixty-two, but the longer you wait (at least until you turn seventy), the bigger your benefit checks will be. And the difference can be huge – the normally cited figure is that your benefits could be 76% more, but this article cites a study suggesting it could be as much as 85%.
On the other hand, if you don’t wait, you’ll start receiving your benefits sooner, and you’ll receive them for a longer amount of time. So how do you decide?
Out of several considerations, the two biggest are:
- Can you wait? –If you’re sixty-three and you lose your job, you may not have the flexibility to delay your benefits. A number of people simply cannot wait to start taking their Social Security benefits. If you need the money, then you need the money.
- Your Life Expectancy – The optimal time to take your benefits often comes down to when you think you are likely to die. It doesn’t do any good to delay your benefits until seventy if no one in your family has lived past seventy-two. Those two years of bigger checks won’t make up for the smaller checks you could have been receiving for an extra eight years. If everyone in your family has lived past ninety-five, you may want to strongly consider holding off.
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