Many of my clients over the year have asked me about their social security benefits and the best time to begin to take them. I used to answer those questions but never thought it was applicable to me. Recently, my husband decided to retire in 2017 and all of a sudden the question of when to take Social Security is intensely personal. We have analyzed, calculated and discussed our options and it is not an easy process. Generally, the factors to consider include whether or not you or your spouse will receive a pension, how long you or your spouse plan to work, if both spouses will receive social security, how much you have saved in your 401K or other retirement accounts, your health and other factors. The calculations can be made to maximize your benefits, but generally “full retirement age” (age 65 or in the case of my husband born in 1955, age 66 and 2 months) is when you will receive 100% of your benefits and is often the most recommended.
For example, in 2017, the maximum benefit at full retirement age would be $2,687/mo. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2017, your maximum benefit would be about 75% of the benefit or $2,015. If you retire at age 70 in 2017, your maximum benefit would be increased to 128% or $3,439. Then you have to do the math based on your circumstances. What if you defer until age 70 and do not survive to 70? What if you live to age 95 and take your benefit at age 62 you will have received $797,940 (at current benefits without adjusting for inflation), but if you deferred until age 70 and lived to age 95 you will have received $1,031,700. A dilemma! Consult a professional for the calculations you need to make to make the best decision for you.