When should you start social security?

The short answer is:  When you need it.

Now the long answer is going to sound complicated. It can be but if you have a plan for what you have, need, and want, determining the timing for turning on your social security doesn’t need to be. Ideally, it is best to wait until your full-retirement age (FRA), which is normally between age 66 and 67. Turning it on before your FRA you will receive less. Over your FRA and up to age 70, you will receive more.

For example, if your FRA is 66 and you turn on SS at age 62, you’ll receive 25% less than if you had waited until age 66. However, if you retire at age 70, your monthly check will be 32% more than your full retirement age benefit. There is no benefit increases after age 70 so make sure it is on by then.

There are other factors to consider when determining when it is the ideal time to turn on your social security benefits. Are you married, divorced or widowed? Is there an age difference between spouses? For example, if a couple does not need the older spouse’s social security check right away, it would benefit delaying taking the payment until age 70 so it builds up to the maximum amount. This way when the older spouse passes away, the younger spouse can jump up and collect the older spouses much larger social security check. If your divorced, under certain conditions, the amount you can receive is the higher of your benefit or 50% of your ex-spouses.

Another thing to think about income caps. If you turn on SS and still are earning an income over a certain amount, your SS income will be affected. Those amounts are different for before 65 and after and does not include unearned income. Unearned income come from things such as annuities, real estate and investments.

Overwhelming? I refer to the short answer. Take it when you need it. If you don’t need it right away and want to maximize a spousal benefit and need help, talk to a professional or call the social security office. The Social Security office won’t help you determine the best age to turn on your income, but will tell you how much you will receive at your current age and how the benefits will be structured giving you the maximum you are entitled to. When you have that information you have what you need to make the decision in an informed manner.

Everyone has different needs. Here is an interesting chart from an article in USA Today back in June of 2018.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/retirement/2018/06/19/whats-most-popular-age-to-take-social-security/35928543/

57% of eligible social security recipients started their social security prior to full-retirement age. 

18.1% waited until full-retirement age

Only 7.6% waited until after full-retirement age to start their social security check.

17% were on disability which could have started at a much younger age.

In the end, when you need your social security, take it. The financial “gurus” will tell you that you must wait until full retirement age but the decision is yours and is based on your specific needs and wants.

Live free my friends