Money: What age is the right age to start taking Social Security?


Claire Damgaard PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY


Claire Damgaard PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY


Claire Damgaard PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY


Claire Damgaard PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

When it comes to Social Security payouts, the “when” can be as important as the “how much.”

Americans in retirement, or nearing it, have multiple options as to when to start collecting Social Security benefits. The attractiveness of each option depends on a myriad of factors, including income need, health and career/retirement status.

Make no mistake; there’s an abundant amount of cash on the table with Social Security. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, approximately 67.9 million Americans took Social Security benefits in 2018. But not all Americans will take Social Security at the same age and for good reasons.

Here are three common scenarios for when Americans start withdrawing money:

Scenario 1 (age 62): Starting Social Security payouts at age 62 might make sense for someone who is no longer working and has limited retirement resources. That person, like many Americans, might not have a traditional pension, and her 401(k) might not be sufficient to provide for retirement needs. Consequently, for Americans who have few options for gaining paid employment and have limited financial resources, starting Social Security at age 62 might be necessary to make ends meet.

Scenario 2 (full retirement age): There is a strong financial argument for waiting until full retirement age, which is approximately between the ages of 66 and 67, depending on the year you were born, to take Social Security benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, if your 62nd birthday is in 2020, you are eligible to receive $716 per month. But if you wait until your full retirement age of 66 and 8 months, you would receive $1,000 per month. Under the same scenario, someone who begins collecting at age 62 would receive $3,408 less each year than the person who waits until their full retirement age. (But the person who began collecting early would have received approximately $34,368 in benefits by the time she reached full retirement age.)

Scenario 3 (age 70): Delaying Social Security until age 70 makes sense for individuals who plan to keep working until age 70 or have financial resources they can use in their early retirement years. Recipients should know that for each year they delay retirement (up until age 70), their Social Security payments will increase based on the number of months you delay taking your benefits. If you wait until age 70 (using the same example in Scenario 2, where your 62nd birthday is in 2020), you would receive a 76% increase of $1,266 per month.

Since your financial situation is unique, it is important to consult with a financial professional regarding your retirement planning.

Claire Damgaard is an agent with New York Life Insurance Company in Dubuque.

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