The Best Reasons to Start Claiming Social Security Before You Turn 70

As you approach retirement, a pivotal decision awaits: when is the best time to begin claiming your Social Security benefits? This choice, akin to the age-old wisdom of “The early bird catches the worm,” holds significant financial implications. While some claim benefits as early as 62, others delay until 67 or later. Each path has its merits, tailored to individual circumstances and needs.

Claiming Social Security Early: Why It Makes Sense for Many

Initiating Social Security payments at 62 is a common choice, especially for those needing immediate financial support. According to the 2024 Retirement Confidence Survey, many American workers have limited retirement savings, making early Social Security benefits an economic lifeline.

Financial Necessity: A Key Driver

Early Social Security benefits offer a crucial buffer for many nearing retirement with insufficient savings. Delaying retirement can enhance financial stability, but there are other options for some. Early claiming provides a necessary income stream for day-to-day expenses.

Health and Longevity Considerations

Your health and family medical history play a crucial role in this decision. If you face health challenges or have a family history of shorter lifespans, claiming benefits early might be more beneficial, ensuring you receive support when needed.

Market Fluctuations and Investment Strategies

Market volatility around your retirement age can impact your decision. If the market dips, you might prefer not to withdraw from your investments at a loss. Early Social Security benefits can help you avoid this, allowing your investments time to recover. Additionally, if you’re a seasoned investor with sufficient retirement income, claiming early to reinvest these funds could be a strategic move, provided you anticipate returns exceeding the 8% annual growth of deferred Social Security benefits.

The Case for Delaying Social Security

On the flip side, delaying Social Security can significantly increase your benefits. Each year you wait past your full retirement age (typically 66 or 67), your benefits grow by about 8% until age 70.

Maximizing Your Benefits

Delaying Social Security is a strategic choice for those without immediate income and aiming to maximize their benefits. This approach is particularly advantageous if you’re likely to live beyond 80, as the increased payments over an extended period can outweigh the smaller, more numerous payments of early claiming.

Enhanced Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs)

More extensive Social Security checks also mean more enormous COLAs, adjustments made most years to account for inflation. This can significantly impact your total benefits, especially in an inflationary environment.

Making an Informed Decision

Understanding Social Security and its nuances is crucial for making an informed decision. Whether you start at 62, 70, or somewhere in between, Social Security will likely comprise a substantial portion of your retirement income. Educating yourself on the various strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits can lead to a more comfortable and confident retirement.

The decision to claim Social Security early or delay it hinges on individual circumstances, including financial needs, health status, investment strategies, and life expectancy. When carefully considering all these factors, you can make a choice that best supports your economic well-being in retirement.