What to Know About Claiming Social Security Benefits

What to Know About Claiming Social Security Benefits

Tips to help maximize your Social Security benefits

If you’re nearing retirement, you’re likely wondering when you should claim Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer because everyone’s situation is different. However, you can think the decision through and come up with a number that fits you. Here are some things to consider.

Early Bird

The earliest you can claim Social Security benefits is 62. According to the SSA, in 2020, about 23 percent of men and 25 percent of women claimed their benefits at 62. Some people file early because they need the cash; others file early because of health concerns. Waiting past 62 is usually the right move.

Waiting Game

Why wait past 62? Because the longer you wait to file for Social Security, the fatter your monthly checks are going to be. If you file at 62, you will get paid a lot less in benefits than if you waited until your full retirement age (usually 67, for those born in 1960 or later). If you wait until 70 to file, you’ll get paid even more. There is no benefit to waiting any longer than 70 for filing for benefits.

The Numbers

Let’s say your full retirement age is 67, and if you file at that point you’d get $1,000 per month in Social Security benefits. If you file at 62, you’d only get $700 per month. If you wait until 70, you’d be getting $1,240 per month. That’s a big difference. The bottom line with claiming benefits? Consider your health, other sources of retirement income, retirement goals, and more before making your decision. Although there are a few ways to claim a do-over (in the first year, then again at full retirement age), they’re complicated. It’s better to get it right the first time.

Chris O'Shea

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