Should You Take Social Security Earlier Rather Than Later?

Should You Take Social Security Earlier Rather Than Later?

When it comes to strategizing when to claim Social Security payments, many advise that people should start later. But this one factor might change your retirement calculus. 

Here's What You Need to Remember: A key reason is if your health isn’t great, and you’re betting that you might not live long enough to collect Social Security for a matter of decades.

When it comes to strategizing when to claim Social Security payments, many advise that people should start later. After all, if you begin collecting Social Security at age sixty-two, you get fewer benefits than if you wait longer.

“It is important to remember: If you delay your benefits until after full retirement age, you will be eligible for delayed retirement credits that would increase your monthly benefit,” the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself says.

“You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, you are entitled to full benefits when you reach your full retirement age. If you delay taking your benefits from your full retirement age up to age 70, your benefit amount will increase,” the SSA website says. The site also looks at different advantages and disadvantages to early collection. 

“There are advantages and disadvantages to taking your benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is your benefit will be reduced. Each person's situation is different. It is important to remember.” 

However, there are some reasons to collect earlier, and Motley Fool laid those out this week

A key reason, the article said, is if your health isn’t great, and you’re betting that you might not live long enough to collect Social Security for a matter of decades. 

“The Social Security benefit you'll be eligible for in retirement is based on your earnings during your 35 most profitable years in the workforce. From there, you'll be entitled to that benefit upon reaching full retirement age, or FRA, which kicks in at 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on the year in which you were born,” Motley Fool said.

“Meanwhile, you can sign up for Social Security once you turn 62, but for each month you claim benefits before FRA, they'll be reduced on a permanent basis. On the flip side, you can delay your filing past FRA and permanently boost your benefits in the process up until the age of 70. At that point, your benefits won't grow any more.”

“If you don't have a lot of money in retirement savings, boosting your benefits by claiming them at age 70 may seem like a smart idea. But if you're not confident you'll live a long life, then filing well before the age of 70 makes a lot more sense.” 

Meanwhile, more than half of Americans fear that Social Security won’t be there for them when it’s time for them to collect it. That’s according to Nationwide’s eighth Annual Social Security Consumer Survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Nationwide Retirement Institute. 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

This article was first published earlier and has been reposted due to reader interest. 

Image: Reuters.