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Factors To Consider When Looking At Taking Social Security


Determining when to take Social Security is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your retirement income and financial security. With various factors to consider, including your age, health, financial needs, and long-term goals, making an informed decision requires careful evaluation. Let’s explore some key considerations to help you decide when to take Social Security benefits.

1. Full Retirement Age (FRA)

Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you are entitled to receive full Social Security benefits based on your birth year. For those born between 1943 and 1954, the FRA is 66. It gradually increases for those born later, reaching 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

2. Early vs. Delayed Benefits

You have the option to start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but doing so will result in reduced monthly payments compared to waiting until your FRA. On the other hand, delaying benefits past your FRA can increase your monthly payments through delayed retirement credits, up until age 70.

3. Financial Needs and Longevity

Consider your financial needs and longevity when deciding when to take Social Security. If you need income to cover essential expenses and don’t have other sources of income, taking benefits earlier may be necessary. However, if you have other retirement savings or pension income, delaying Social Security can result in higher monthly benefits, which may be beneficial if you expect to live longer.

4. Health and Family History

Assess your health and family history to estimate your life expectancy. If you have good health and longevity runs in your family, delaying Social Security may result in greater overall benefits over your lifetime. Conversely, if you have health concerns or a shorter life expectancy, taking benefits earlier may be preferable to maximize the total benefits received.

5. Spousal Benefits and Survivor Benefits

If you’re married, consider how your decision will affect spousal and survivor benefits. Spousal benefits are available based on your spouse’s work record, and delaying your benefits can result in higher spousal benefits for your spouse. Additionally, delaying benefits can increase survivor benefits for your spouse if you pass away first, providing greater financial security for them in retirement.

6. Tax Implications

Evaluate the tax implications of taking Social Security benefits at different ages. Depending on your other sources of income, including retirement account withdrawals and investment income, your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal and state income taxes. Understanding how your benefits will be taxed can help you optimize your overall tax strategy in retirement.

7. Individual Circumstances

Ultimately, the decision of when to take Social Security is highly individualized and depends on your unique circumstances, preferences, and goals. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or retirement planner who can provide personalized guidance based on your financial situation and retirement objectives.

In conclusion, determining when to take Social Security benefits requires careful consideration of various factors, including your FRA, financial needs, health, longevity, spousal benefits, tax implications, and individual circumstances. By weighing these factors thoughtfully and seeking professional advice if needed, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your retirement goals and maximizes your financial security in retirement.


Dale Wondisford, Medigap Agent

15 Years experience helping hundreds of families get the best insurance policy to meet their needs.