The question of when to start taking Social Security is a tricky one. The answer is unique for each individual or couple.
There are many considerations when deciding when to take Social Security. While you can start taking Social Security as early as age 62, you are only entitled to your maximum benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. However, if you delay taking your benefits further, your benefit will increase each year until you turn 70. This begs the question – should you wait until your full retirement age to take Social Security, should you start early and take it at 62, or should you maximize your monthly benefit and take it at 70?
What happens if you take Social Security early?
The chart below illustrates the amount by which your benefit is reduced if you take your Social Security at age 62 instead of your full retirement age.
|Year of Birth||Full Retirement Age||Months between age 62 and full retirement age|
At Age 62
|A $1000 retirement benefit would be reduced to||The retirement benefit is reduced by||A $500 spouse’s benefit would be reduced to||The spouse’s benefit is reduced by|
|1955||66 and 2 months||50||$741||25.83%||$345||30.83%|
|1956||66 and 4 months||52||$733||26.67%||$341||31.67%|
|1957||66 and 6 months||54||$725||27.50%||$337||32.50%|
|1958||66 and 8 months||56||$716||28.33%||$333||33.33%|
|1959||66 and 10 months||58||$708||29.17%||$329||34.17%|
|1960 and later||67||60||$700||30.00%||$325||35.00%|
What happens if I delay taking my benefits?
If you wait past your full retirement age and delay taking your benefits to age 70 (or somewhere in between), you will earn a “delayed retirement” credit. This means that your Social Security retirement benefits are increased by a certain percentage for each month that you delay starting your benefits past your retirement age up to age 70.
|Year of Birth||12-Month Rate of Increase||Monthly Rate of Increase|
|1933-1934||5.5%||11/24 of 1%|
|1935-1936||6.0%||1/2 of 1%|
|1937-1938||6.5%||13/24 of 1%|
|1939-1940||7.0%||7/12 of 1%|
|1941-1942||7.5%||5/8 of 1%|
|1943 or later||8.0%||2/3 of 1%|
When should you start taking Social Security?
There is no one size fits all answer to when you should start taking Social Security. At Prosperity, we consider your current age, assets, income, expenses, health, life expectancy, and cash flow projections to calculate the optimal time for you to take Social Security.
Another consideration is whether you are an individual or a couple. For individuals, there is an estimated breakeven point when you should take Social Security. However, people in a couple must look at their optimal strategy in relation to their spouse’s strategy. This can be further complicated if you are widowed or divorced.
Are you ready for retirement?
While Social Security is a vital part of a healthy retirement plan, Social Security doesn’t replace your entire income. On average, it accounts for only 40% of past earnings.
Take our retirement readiness quiz to find out if you are ready for retirement.
 If you were born on January 1st, you should refer to the previous year.
 If you were born on the 1st of the month, we figure your benefit (and your full retirement age) as if your birthday was in the previous month. If you were born on January 1st, we figure your benefit (and your full retirement age) as if your birthday was in December of the previous year.
 you must be at least 62 for the entire month to receive benefits.
 Percentages are approximate due to rounding.
 The maximum benefit for the spouse is 50 percent of the benefit the worker would receive at full retirement age. The percent reduction for the spouse should be applied after the automatic 50 percent reduction. Percentages are approximate due to rounding.
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