When it comes to taking Social Security, waiting longer can offer the largest benefit.
When should you apply for Social Security? Many Americans start taking benefits as soon as they're eligible at age 62, while some wait until they reach full retirement age—66 or 67, depending on the year in which they were born. Still others postpone taking benefits until age 70 (the oldest age at which they can start benefits) to secure the largest monthly benefit.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach for claiming Social Security benefits, one thing is certain: Social Security is a primary source of retirement income for tens of millions of Americans each year, providing 52% of their household income needs, on average.1 For this reason, it's important to think carefully about which strategy is right for you.
Now or Later?
Taking Social Security before reaching your full retirement age may offer certain advantages. For example, the benefits you receive may enable you to retire early or to cut back on your hours at work. But claiming benefits early comes at a price. If you start collecting benefits at 62, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced by as much as 30%, depending upon the year you were born.2 In contrast, the longer you wait, the higher your benefit will be.
Know Your Situation.
You can make a similar calculation based on your own age and earnings. The Social Security Administration offers two calculators—the Quick Calculator, which provides a preliminary estimate of your benefits based on your current year earnings, and the more in-depth Retirement Estimator, which accesses your complete earnings record.
Of course, deciding the right time to take your Social Security benefits involves several variables, including your earnings history, life expectancy and financial needs, among others. To better understand your Social Security options, speak with your local Mutual of America Regional Office representative.