You’ve worked your entire life, and now it’s almost time to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, how do you know when you should start taking Social Security?
It should be a simple question with an easy answer, but in this case, it’s more complicated. Each person has a different age in which it’d be ideal for them to start collecting, making it a complicated answer as to when it’s best to receive payments.
To help those who are trying to figure out when it’s a good time to take Social Security, we put together a guide. For starters, in regards to the start date, there are several factors you should consider:
Wait Until You’re 62 (But Get Social Security Benefits Before You’re 70)
Many people understand that they can’t collect Social Security benefits before they turn 62. In addition to not being able to collect it until you’re 62, you also aren’t entitled to receive the full amount until you turn 65.
Not many people know that the longer you wait to collect Social Security benefits, the higher your payments will be. It’s encouraging that each year, between the ages of 62 and 70, your benefits will increase a certain percentage.
It’s hard to know precisely how much the payments will increase since the percentage fluctuates with national inflation rates. Nevertheless, it’s still an increase.
According to AARP, the percentage usually hovers around 8%, and it rarely goes over that amount. So, if you want to get the maximum amount of Social Security and can afford to wait a few more years, it may be in your best interest to stick it out.
Calculate Your Benefits
If you’re curious as to how much money you’ll receive when you do start receiving benefits, there are many Social Security calculators online.
The calculators will help you determine how much you’ll get if you start collecting right away. For example, you can check out the calculator on OpenSocialSecurity.com.
To use the calculator, you’ll need to enter the following info:
- Date of Birth (DOB)
- Marital Status
Also, you’ll also have to enter your primary insurance amount (PIA), which you can calculate on the Social Security website. This online calculator breaks down how much you’ll make each year after you retire. It also offers some a few recommendations that tell you when the best time to retire is, the yearly benefit breakdown, etc.
You Should Have Other Assets to Live Off
Whether you decide to collect Social Security the day you turn 62 or wait for a few more years, you should have some assets to keep you afloat for a while.
In other words, don’t spend your Social Security checks starting the day you retire. It’s especially essential to delay Social Security if you already have enough money to keep you going for a few more years.
Keep in mind that the average retiree collects less than $1,500 a month. For most people, that’s barely enough to pay their bills. Receiving Social Security during one year calculates to slightly more than $16,000.
Now, if you already have a mortgage, car payments, children and grandkids, and other expenses, you can’t rely solely on Social Security benefits. It’s essential to have enough money in the bank (or additional funds you can liquidate), so you can live comfortably without having to worry about money.
In other words, it’s in your best interest not to collect Social Security if you already have enough money in the bank just yet.
Even if you have to start your Social Security benefits, if they’re not going to cover your expenses, you might want to consider working a while longer. Working a part-time job, for example, may help you save up some extra money before receiving payments.
Plus, if you still enjoy working and receiving Social Security benefits isn’t a priority at the moment, you may want to wait until it’s necessary.
Married Couples Should Defer At least One Person’s Benefits
If you’re married and your spouse is retiring around the same time, that’s going to help you both out a lot. The reason why this is a good thing is that you both don’t have to collect Social Security at the same time.
In fact, in this situation, it’s best only for only one person to collect. After one of the spouses begins collecting, the other person should continue to defer payment. Waiting will allow the dollar amount of the other Social Security benefits to increase.
If possible, the spouse who isn’t collecting benefits should defer receiving payments for as long as possible. While the interest of the untapped Social Security benefits increases, you can both live off of one Social Security payment. Holding off on collecting from additional benefits can have a positive impact on your finances going forward.
Also, in case you didn’t know, spouses have the opportunity to collect spousal benefits, which is 50% of one person’s Social Security benefits!
Make a Plan and Stick to It
Hopefully, you both can live comfortably with savings and a single Social Security payment while additional Social Security benefits continue to increase.
Even though it may be challenging to decide when to start collecting Social Security benefits, you can put your mind at ease by planning.
Be wise with your finances before you retire, make sure you have enough money saved in the bank, and think about when you’d like to start collecting. If you’re married, both you and your spouse should make this decision together.
Remember, don’t solely rely on Social Security benefits to keep you afloat. You should consider them an extra payment and not as the only source of money you’ll receive.
Don’t feel rushed to make a decision right away as to when you’ll collect – take all the time you need. Everything should fall into place if you’re wise with your finances and develop an effective plan.
Cassie Avery is the Business Manager at Incline at Anthem. With over eight years of experience in the industry, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping others and makes this property a place everyone loves to call home.