As you approach retirement age, one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make is when to start taking your Social Security benefits. Should you take them early, at age 62, or wait until your full retirement age (FRA), or even later? The answer depends on your individual circumstances and financial goals. Here are some pros and cons to consider for each option:
Taking Social Security early (at age 62)
- Early access to benefits: Taking Social Security at age 62 gives you immediate access to your benefits, which can be helpful if you need the income.
- More total payments: While the monthly benefit amount will be smaller than if you wait until your FRA or later, you may receive more total payments over your lifetime by starting earlier.
- Reduced monthly benefit: Taking Social Security early means your monthly benefit will be reduced, sometimes by as much as 30% compared to your FRA benefit.
- Earnings limitations: If you continue to work and earn more than a certain amount, your Social Security benefit may be reduced or even temporarily withheld.
Waiting to take Social Security (at or after FRA)
- Higher monthly benefit: Waiting until your FRA or later to take Social Security means a higher monthly benefit, sometimes by as much as 8% per year for each year you delay.
- More financial security in later years: Waiting to take Social Security can provide more financial security in later years when healthcare costs and other expenses may be higher.
- Delayed access to benefits: Waiting to take Social Security means you’ll have to wait longer to receive your benefits, which could be challenging if you need the income.
- Health and longevity risks: If you delay taking Social Security and don’t live long enough to receive many payments, you may not receive the full value of your benefits.
Ultimately, the decision of when to take Social Security depends on your individual financial situation and goals. It’s important to consider factors such as your health, longevity, retirement savings, and other sources of income. Additionally, you may want to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security expert to help you make an informed decision.
In conclusion, taking Social Security early or waiting until later both have pros and cons. Carefully weighing your options and considering your individual circumstances can help you make the right decision for your retirement income strategy.