You Can Receive Benefits Before Your Full Retirement Age
You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be lower than your full retirement benefit amount.
If you start receiving your benefits before your full retirement age, we will reduce your benefits based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach your full retirement age.
If you wait until age 70 to start your benefits, your benefit amount will be higher because you will receive delayed retirement credits for each month you delay filing for benefits. There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay starting benefits.
Reasons You Should Claim Social Security Early
Learn why Social Security at 62 might not be a bad idea. Social Security 101
Your retirement planning likely includes getting income from the Social Security Administration, but when you start collecting Social Security benefits can have a big impact on your planning. The earliest you can collect is age 62, but youll get more money if you delay your benefits past your initial Social Security eligibility. If you wait until after your full retirement age to start collecting Social Security you can earn delayed retirement credits, which will increase your benefits even more.
You might think that waiting for bigger benefits is better, but thats not always the case. There is no definitive answer to when you should collect Social Security benefits, and taking them as soon as you hit the early retirement age of 62 might be the best financial move.
When Is The Best Age For Americans To Claim Social Security
When to claim Social Security retirement benefits is one of the most crucial financial decisions facing older workers. But not everyone makes informed choices. The timing of the claim is key. The earlier a worker files to receive Social Security, the lower the monthly payment for the rest of that workers life. The longer a worker waits, the larger the benefit. Workers can claim as early as 62, but face a permanent reduction of benefits for every year they file before full retirement age of 66 . Even so, nearly half of American workers claim Social Security benefits at 62, and a cumulative 60% claim before full retirement age electing to accept a significant loss of income for the remainder of their lives.
Plain old human psychology can also play a role. Behavioral scientists refer to this as an intertemporal choice problem between receiving a smaller reward now or a larger one later. Eat that ice cream sundae or demur and avoid diabetes? Sell now or wait for the house to appreciate? Cash-in a 401K early or allow it to continue growing? In making these decisions, the allure of immediate gratification can be stronger than future gain. Researchers at Columbia University found that people faced with intertemporal choices often emphasize receiving the reward right away. Apparently, deciding whether to claim Social Security benefits sooner than later is no exception.
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Waiting Just Might Be Worth It
Social Security is designed to play a part in — but not be the only source of funding for — your retirement. When considering whether 62 is the right age for you to claim benefits, be sure to look at your total financial picture before committing. You just might find that waiting a bit could end up being a better overall choice.
You Need To Pay Down Debt
There are some debts you need to tackle before you retire. If you have high-interest debt, claiming Social Security early can help you pay the debt down. Depending on the interest rate youre paying, the 8% yearly boost to your benefits that you receive for each year you wait past full retirement age might not be worth the increased monthly benefit. Using the early benefits to reduce or eliminate your debt earlier could mean youll be able to keep more of your benefits in the future.
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When Should You Start Collecting Social Security Benefits
To determine when you should start taking your benefits, its important to understand how much your check is affected by when you claim your benefit. As mentioned before, you can claim your benefit as early as age 62, but reaching full retirement age can secure your full benefit.
So when exactly is full retirement age? That depends on when you were born.
|Year of birth|
|65 + 2 months for each year past 1937|
|66 + 2 months for each year past 1954|
|1960 and later||67|
While the full retirement age used to be 65, changes to the program have increased that age. For example, those born in 1955 now have to wait an extra two months beyond age 66 to claim their full benefit. Someone born in 1959, for example, would have to wait until age 66 and 10 months to get the full benefit. Anyone born in 1960 or later, receives their full benefit at 67.
But some retirees choose to wait even longer. You may wait until as late as age 70 to claim your benefit, but then you must take it. Youll receive a bigger check for doing so.
So what is the upside to delaying your Social Security benefit after age 62? Your check wont get hit by a serious benefit reduction. Heres how much a $1,000 monthly check will become if you claim your benefit as soon as youre eligible at age 62.
|Year of birth||If you file at 62, benefit reduced by:||A $1,000 check becomes|
Increasing The Eligibility Age For Social Security Pensions
Social Security faces a long-term financing problem. Many young workers believe the problem is so severe they may never receive a Social Security check. The most logical solution to Social Securitys financing problem is to trim promised benefits and increase payroll taxes moderately. A sensible way to reduce future benefits is to increase the early eligibility age and normal retirement age for retirement pensions. This reform is justified by the substantial increase in life spans that has occurred since Social Security was established in the 1930s. An increase in life spans, when the normal retirement age remains unchanged, is equivalent to a sizable increase in lifetime Social Security benefits.
Increasing the retirement age is unpopular with voters. Unfortunately, so are all other reforms that would restore Social Security to solvency, including tax hikes and cuts in the formula for calculating full pensions.
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Determining Which Retirement Age Is Best For You
Should you take the money and run at age 62? Or hold out until you’re 70? Approximately 50% of people don’t wait past age 62, usually because they need the money, are convinced that Social Security might collapse at a later date, or are fearful of a short life span.
But is early retirement a good option for you? The questions below will help you decide.
Are you still working? Some people, especially construction workers and other physical laborers, are less physically able to handle work at 62, even though they don’t qualify for disability. They may be good candidates for early retirement. However, if you’re still able-bodied and interested in working, you might want to avoid claiming early retirement benefits. If you’re earning a high salary, you’ll miss the opportunity to boost your Social Security payment amount.
Second, you’ll lose one dollar in benefits for every two dollars you earn over the SSA’s earnings limit . There are no such deductions if you work after reaching full retirement age. The SSA provides an online earnings test calculator to determine whether working will lower your retirement benefits.
How’s your health? If you’re convincedâeither by genetics, research, or the amount of time you spend in doctors’ officesâthat you’ll have a shorter lifespan than your peers, it doesn’t make much sense to delay your retirement benefits.
You Have A Shorter Life Expectancy
The government incentivizes waiting to collect your Social Security benefits by giving you a larger monthly amount the longer you delay. For example, if you start collecting benefits at age 62 when your full retirement age is 66, your monthly benefit will be about 75% of your full-age benefit. So if you expected your monthly benefit to be $1,000 per month at 66, you would only receive around $750 at 62.
Although a larger monthly benefit might sound great, keep in mind that youd have to wait four years to get that extra $250 per month. You would receive $36,000 during those four years at the reduced amount of $750 per month.
When you start collecting $1,000 at age 66, that extra $250 per month wont let you break even for 12 years compared to collecting early. If your health is declining and you dont expect to live until youre 78, youll receive more in benefits during your lifetime if you start claiming as soon as possible.
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Calculate My Social Security Income
These days thereâs a lot of doom and gloom about Social Securityâs solvency – or lack thereof. And regardless of whether you think Social Securityâs future is secure, the fact remains that you shouldnât plan on living exclusively off your Social Security benefits. After all, Social Security wasnât designed to make up a retireeâs entire income.
Still, many people do find themselves in the position of having to live off their Social Security checks. And even if you have other income sources in retirement, Social Security can make up a significant part of your retirement income plan. That’s why itâs important to know all the rules surrounding eligibility, benefit amounts, taxation and more.
Do you need help managing your retirement savings? To find a financial advisor near you, try our free online matching tool.
How Does The Social Security Administration Calculate Benefits
Benefits also depend on how much money youâve earned in life. The Social Security Administration takes your highest-earning 35 years of covered wages and averages them, indexing for inflation. They give you a big fat âzeroâ for each year you donât have earnings, so people who worked for fewer than 35 years may see lower benefits.
The Social Security Administration also makes annual Cost of Living Adjustments, even as you collect benefits. That means the retirement income you collect from Social Security has built-in protection against inflation. For many people, Social Security is the only form of retirement income they have that is directly linked to inflation. Itâs a big perk that doesnât get a lot of attention.
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How Start Stop Start Works
Social Security expert Larry Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University, named the start, stop, start Social Security approach. The strategy allowed you to receive a benefit at age 62 for a while, suspend benefits, and resume them again later.
The decision to postpone receiving benefits past full retirement age will result in delayed retirement credits. Your benefits will grow 8% each year you postpone taking them until you reach age 70.
This approach may be a way to maximize lifetime Social Security payments for some, but there are caveats. Its best to use a calculator, such as the one provided by the Social Security Administration, to help understand how this strategy might work for you.
There is no advantage to suspending benefits past age 70.
Prior to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, individuals used to be able to collect Social Security benefits at age 62, suspend benefits, and restart them later. Now, if you collect any time before your full retirement age, you have only 12 months to change your mindand if you do, you’ll have to pay back the monies received. In addition, you can only do this once, and it is considered a withdrawal of benefits by the Social Security Administration.
The above scenarios would be viable for someone who initially needs the benefits, but later gets a job or unexpected windfall, for example.
Know Your Social Security Full Retirement Age
First things first:Determine your Social Security full retirement age. For people born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. If your birthday falls between 1955 and 1959, it gradually climbs to 67. If you are born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67.
You can claim your Social Security benefits a few years before or after your full retirement age, and your monthly benefit amount will vary as a result. More on that in a moment.
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Is There A Maximum Benefit
Yes, there is a limit to how much you can receive in Social Security benefits. The maximum Social Security benefit changes each year. For 2021, itâs $3,895/month for those who retire at age 70 . Multiply that by 12 to get $46,740 in maximum annual benefits. If that’s less than your anticipated annual expenses, youâll need to have additional income from your own savings to supplement it.
Beware The Social Security Earnings Test
Bringing in too much money in earned income can cost you if you continue to work after claiming Social Security benefits early. With what is commonly known as the Social Security earnings test for annual income, you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you make over the earnings limit, which in 2021 is $18,960. Once you are past full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, and you can make as much money as you want with no impact on benefits.
Any Social Security benefits forfeited to the earnings test are not lost forever. At your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefits to take into account benefits lost to the test. For example, if you claim benefits at 62 and over the next four years lose one full years worth of benefits to the earnings test, at a full retirement age of 66 your benefits will be recomputed — and increased — as if you had taken benefits three years early, instead of four. That basically means the lifetime reduction in benefits would be 20% rather than 25%.
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Watch Out For Hidden Costs
Youll also want to consider other lifestyle factors, especially Medicare. Americans become eligible for federal health insurance coverage at age 65, well after when you can begin to file for Social Security.
If you stop working at age 62 and lose health insurance, you have to get supplemental insurance to bridge the gap until you turn 65 and Medicare kicks in, Neiser says.
If you work during retirement, you have another incentive to delay collecting Social Security. Earning too much at a job after you begin collecting your benefit can reduce your payout, but only if you have yet to hit full retirement age.
However, when you hit full retirement age, your benefit will increase to account for any benefit that was withheld earlier due to working. Heres how much you can earn and not get hit.
If youre younger than full retirement age for all of 2021, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 of your monthly check for every $2 you earn above $18,960 per year.
If you reach full retirement age in 2021, the administration deducts $1 of your monthly check for every $3 you earn above $50,520 until the month you reach retirement age.
Youll also owe Social Security and Medicare tax on your earnings, even if youre already receiving benefits.
So those are some potential pitfalls to claiming Social Security early.
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What If Your Earnings Are Falling Short
If you’re earning enough to reach the maximum benefit amount, that’s fantastic. But the average worker will struggle to reach the income limits, and not everyone can afford to work 35 years before claiming.
The good news is that if you’re willing and able to delay benefits past age 62, you can earn closer to the maximum benefit amount.
Say, for example, you have an FRA of 67 years old, and by claiming at that age, you could receive $1,600 per month. If you were to claim early at 62, your benefits would be reduced by 30%, leaving you with $1,120 per month. But if you delay benefits until age 70, you’d receive your full benefit amount plus an extra 24%, or $1,984 per month.
Not everyone will be able to wait until age 70 to file for benefits. But if you’re unable to reach the maximum benefit amount, delaying Social Security is one of the best and easiest ways to boost your benefits.
How Much Can You Make And Draw Social Security At 62
If youre younger than full retirement age, there is a limit to how much you can earn and Page 3 2 still receive full Social Security benefits. If youre younger than full retirement age during all of 2021, we must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn above $18,960.
Why do so many people claim social security at 62?
- The simplest explanation for why so many people claim Social Security at 62 is because they cant claim benefits any earlier. Many people count the days until they can get benefits because they need this money to leave the workforce or to survive comfortably if theyve already been forced out of a job.
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