Gayle Reeves' Blog

When to Claim Social Security Benefits

Gayle A. Reeves - Monday, February 24, 2014

When to claim Social Security Benefits has been in the news a lot lately.  It used to be easy.  You turn 62, retire, and begin receiving Social Security.  But with so many people working longer, whether by choice or necessity, the question of WHEN to take the benefits has become more important.

Why is it so important?

Because after you claim Social Security, you will receive a monthly check for the rest of your life.  How much you get depends on when you start taking it and how much you have contributed into it.  Some people want to begin to receive Social Security as soon as possible so that if they die sooner, rather than later, they won’t be shorted.  On the other hand, the biggest risk is not from dying too soon, but from living too long.  Remember, this will be a part, or in some cases the only, income for the rest of your life.

Some factors to take into consideration

When making your decision, be sure to include:

  1. While you may claim your benefit as early as 62, your benefit will be 25% less than your full benefit;
  2. In order to receive your full Social Security benefit, you have to wait to claim until your full retirement age, which is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954;
  3. If you wait to claim your benefits beyond 66, you get an 8% bonus for every year you wait to claim;
  4. Married women tend to live longer than their husbands, therefore, if a husband takes an earlier benefit, it might significantly reduce the income the widow would receive upon his death;
  5. If you take Social Security before your normal retirement age and you earn over a certain level, Social Security will withhold part of your benefit; and,
  6. There is no benefit to waiting beyond age 70 to take Social Security benefits.

AARP has a Social Security Benefits Calculator at its website: www. aarp.org.  This guide will assist you with deciding when would be the best time for you to begin receiving benefits.  As with all things, what is best for one person, will not work for another.

Before filing make sure that you explore all of your options and meet with a financial advisor or Social Security representative to fully understand how each option will affect you not only today, but years down the road.

Gayle A. Reeves Co., L.P.A., Attorney at Law, Vineyard Square Plaza, 1607 State Route 60, Suite 10, Vermilion, OH 44089, call (440) 967-6565.  Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. www.gayleareeves.com.