Taking Social Security Early or Late?

Most people are eligible to elect Social Security at any time between age 62 and 70. However, most people simply elect Social Security at whatever age they decide to retire, not the age when it will give them the maximum lifetime benefit.

How much you receive from Social Security depends on three primary factors:

  1. Your earnings record
  2. When you elect
  3. How long you expect to live

Since you can't go back and change your earnings record, and you have minimal control over how long you live, calculating an expected lifetime benefit largely hinges on when you elect.

In theory, if you elect early, you will get a smaller benefit for a longer period of time. If you elect later, you will get a larger benefit for a shorter period of time. For single people, the decision of whether to elect early or later is usually as simple as answering the question: do you think you'll live long enough to make waiting worth it? For example, if you decide to elect at 66, how long will it take for the larger payments to make up for the payments you missed from 62-65.

Single people can use a simple “break-even” calculator to determine how long they would have to live to make waiting worthwhile.

For married couples, however, the decision is much more complex.

Why? Because Social Security offers three distinct benefits for married people that these simple calculators ignore:

  1. Retired Worker Benefit: Based on your own earnings record
  2. Spousal Benefit: Provides your spouse with a benefit once you claim your own benefit
  3. Survivor Benefit: Provides your spouse with a benefit after your death

Virtually all of the simple break-even calculators in use today ignore the Spousal and Survivor benefits. More complex planning software includes spousal and survivor benefits but only for one combination of election ages. In short, neither tool offers a thorough analysis.

Social Security Timing® evaluates all 81 election age combinations across 9 different election strategies and finds the highest lifetime benefit.

Read About Unusual Social Security Strategies >>

All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes and is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument to participate in any particular trading strategy. Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), NPC of America in FL & NY, Member FINRA/SIPC (www.FINRA.org, www.SIPC.org), and a Registered Investment Adviser. Registered Representatives of NPC may transact securities business in a particular state only if first registered, excluded or exempted from Broker-Dealer, agent or Investment Adviser Representative requirements. In addition, follow-up conversations or meetings with individuals in a particular state that involve either the effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering or personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made absent compliance with state Broker-Dealer, agent or Investment Adviser Representative requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. Additional advisory services offered through Barber Financial Group (BFG), a Registered Investment Adviser. BFG and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.