Why should I wait until I am 70 to take Social Security?

Reginald A.T. Armstrong •

Reginald A.T. Armstrong

Full Retirement Age (FRA) for those born between 1943 and 1954 is 66. The maximum FRA benefit in 2013 is $2533 per month. Despite a reduction of 25% of this amount for taking the benefit at age 62, over 68% of individuals take their benefits as soon as they can.

Importantly, if you delay your benefits until age 70, you can increase your benefit by 30%! Now many will choose not to do so for a variety of reasons, but let’s list a few reasons why it may be wise to consider doing so.

  • If you are single and have a life expectancy of at least 80, then it may be beneficial. For a single individual, whether you take your benefit at 62, 66, 70, or any other age the system is designed so benefits are the same at about age 80. Consequently, if your genetic history seems to indicate a short lifespan, maybe early benefits are wise. On the other hand, if you have longevity in your genes, delaying benefits may be a better choice.
  • If you are married, it gets more complex. The interplay of your ages and FRAs gives rise to a number of strategies. The optimal strategy can mean as much as 54% more in monthly benefits for the couple and 60% more for the widow as compared to taking benefits at age 62.
  • If you plan on working past your FRA, waiting to draw your benefits may make sense.
  • If you don’t mind drawing down on your investment assets or if you have pensions, it may be good for you to wait to draw on your benefits.
  • A greater benefit provides some “longevity insurance”. If you get $3293 per month starting at age 70 versus $2533 starting at age 66, that extra $760 per month for the rest of your life (not including cost of inflation increases), may help your portfolio last longer.

Maximizing your social security benefits is an important and complex consideration. We specialize in helping design an ideal benefit strategy. If you would like a free customized report, please contact us.

Bonus Tip: If you are divorced, were married for at least 10 years, and currently not remarried, did you know you may be able to file for 50% of your ex-spouse’s social security benefit?

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