When to Begin Taking Social Security

As you get close to retirement, one of your biggest questions will likely be when to begin taking Social Security benefits. If you file at an age other than your full retirement age, your benefit amount will be reduced or increased. Filing earlier gives you a reduced benefit; filing later gives you an increased benefit. For someone with a full retirement age of 67, here is what you can expect, based on the age you actually file for benefits:

Social Security Benefit by Filing Age
62 70.0%
63 75.0%
64 80.0
65 86.7%
66 93.3%
67 100.0%
68 108.0%
69 116.0%
70 124.0%

Everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s important to look closely at the trade-offs before making your decision. Here are some reasons you might want to claim benefits earlier:

  • You simply need the money to help pay living expenses
  • You cannot work longer due to health reasons
  • You have caregiving responsibilities for a family member
  • You have been laid off or lost your job.

Here are some reasons you might want to claim benefits later:

  • You don’t need the money right now, or have income from other sources to tide you over (such as a pension or workplace plan)
  • You believe you have a longer life expectancy, during which higher payments would be helpful
  • You plan to work at some level during retirement
  • You simply like the idea of getting higher benefits over the long term.

To increase your knowledge, check out AARP’s Social Security Resource Center (www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security) as well as the Social Security Administration’s Retirement Benefits web page (www.ssa.gov/planners).

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