3 factors to consider before applying for Social Security – Community News
Social Security

3 factors to consider before applying for Social Security

While Social Security is a program that is full of strict rules, one way it’s not so strict is that seniors are given choices about when to sign up. The earliest you can claim your benefits is age 62, and while there’s technically no end date for applying, there’s no financial sense in delaying your application past age 70.

Still, it is important to claim your benefits strategically, as there is a good chance that they will become a major source of income for you during your retirement. Here are three essential factors that should factor into your Social Security application decision.

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1. Your full retirement age

You may be eligible to start collecting Social Security as soon as you turn 62, but you won’t be able to receive your full monthly benefit based on your pay history until you reach full retirement age, or FRA. FRA depends on your year of birth and for each month you claim benefits, it will be reduced.

You can refer to this table to find your FRA:

If your year of birth is:

Full retirement age is:

1943-1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 or later

67

Data source: Social Security Administration.

While applying for benefits even a month before FRA will cause a reduction, waiting even a month after FRA will result in an increase in your Social Security checks. But you need to know your FRA before making a decision on the submission.

2. Your health

One of your goals when claiming Social Security may be to get as much money out of the program as possible. We just learned that filing before FRA will result in a lower monthly payment, and delaying your filing after FRA will result in a higher one. But while it’s easy to stick with monthly benefits, it’s also important to think about your lifetime benefit – the total amount that Social Security will pay you during your retirement. And the state of your health can really play a role in that.

If your health is in good shape, you can get ahead financially by putting off Social Security for as long as possible. That’s because if you live a very long life, you get more out of the program by waiting to archive. On the other hand, if your health is poor and you don’t think you will live long, it generally makes sense to apply for benefits as early as possible for a higher lifetime benefit.

Here’s an example. Suppose you are entitled to $1,500 per month at an FRA of 67. If your health is poor and you die at age 76, you will receive a lifetime benefit of $176,400 if you apply at age 62. Filing to FRA would, in this example give you a lifetime benefit of $162,000, while filing at 70 would give you a lifetime benefit of $133,920.

Now suppose your health is strong when you retire and you die at the age of 88. In that case, when you are 70, you will give a lifetime Social Security benefit of $401,760. Depositing with FRA will get you $378,000, and depositing with 62 will get you just $327,600.

3. Your pension savings balance

As a senior, you need a decent income to pay your bills. And the less a breeze you take with you into retirement, the more dependent you are on Social Security.

If you don’t have a lot of savings and your health is fair, it may make sense to delay filing for as long as possible — while if you have millions in your IRA or 401(k) plan, you may decide you want your benefits prefer to withdraw early and use that money to travel while you are still relatively young. Either way, the amount of savings you have should play a part in your thought process.

Claiming Social Security at the right time can mean the difference between an easier retirement and a more stressful one, financially speaking. Keep all these important points in mind when making your filing choice.