Any Good Reason to File for Social Security Benefits Before 70?

December 22, 2021 Topic: Social Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Social SecurityBenefitsRetirementEconomyJoe Biden

Any Good Reason to File for Social Security Benefits Before 70?

People who are planning to retire should calculate how much they expect to receive and if they will be able to live off of it.

For millions of hardworking Americans—after decades of pouring money into the Social Security program—there will come a day when they will finally get to reap the financial benefits. 

However, even when that time arrives, many people will wonder how much they can expect to receive and if they will be able to live off those monthly checks.   

Pays to Wait?   

Retirees should be aware that to even qualify for Social Security benefits, an individual must have worked for at least ten years or have amassed at least forty work credits. And for those retirees who decide to collect Social Security at age sixty-two—the earliest age to do so—the maximum amount will be $2,324 ($2,364 in 2022). But if a person is able to wait until the full retirement age (FRA)—which is currently sixty-six and two months (FRA will gradually rise to sixty-seven over the next several years)—the maximum benefit amount is $3,113. As for the absolute maximum benefits, it currently stands at $3,895 ($4,194 next year)—but know that one must wait until age seventy to file. 

“Workers planning for their retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on age at retirement,” the Social Security Administration (SSA) explains on its website. 

“If a worker begins receiving benefits before his/her normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit,” the SSA website states. “A worker can choose to retire as early as age sixty-two, but doing so may result in a reduction of as much as 30 percent. Starting to receive benefits after normal retirement age may result in larger benefits. With delayed retirement credits, a person can receive his or her largest benefit by retiring at age seventy.” 

The Big If 

In light of these facts, is there really any reason to collect Social Security benefits before age seventy? According to personal finance writer Kailey Hagen at The Motley Fool, “for most seniors who live into their eighties or beyond, delaying benefits is often the more lucrative option. In some cases, it helps them get $50,000 or more out of the program compared to signing up right away.” 

However, “there’s a big if there. Those who don't make it into their eighties are usually better off signing up for Social Security much sooner. . . . The problem is you can never be sure how long you’ll live,” Hagen explained. “So you just have to take your best guess. Some people prefer to hedge their bets by signing up somewhere in the middle, like their FRA. This is another option if you want to enjoy some of the benefits of delaying without waiting until you’re seventy.” 

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn

 Image: Reuters