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One of the most common questions people ask about Social Security is when they should start taking benefits.

This is the $64,000 question. Making the right decision for you can have a meaningful impact on your financial income in retirement.

Before considering how personal circumstances and objectives may play into your decision, it may be helpful to preface that discussion with an illustration of how benefits may differ based upon the age at which you commence taking Social Security.

As the accompanying chart reflects, the amount you receive will be based upon the age at which you begin taking benefits.

Monthly Benefit Amounts
Based on the Age that Benefits Begin¹

Age Benefit Amount

62
63
64
65
66 and 4 months
67
68
69
70

$953
$1,018
$1,097
$1,184
$1,300
$1,369
$1,473
$1,577
$1,681

*This example assumes a benefit amount of $1,300 at the full retirement age of 66 and 4 months.

At first blush, the decision may seem a bit clear-cut: Simply calculate the lifetime value of the early benefit amount versus the lifetime value of the higher benefit, based on some assumed life expectancy.

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The calculus is a bit more complicated than that because of the more favorable tax treatment of Social Security income versus IRA withdrawals, spousal benefit coordination opportunities, the consideration of the surviving spouse, and Social Security’s lifetime income guarantee that exists under current law.²

Here are three ideas to think about when making your decision:

  1. Do You Need the Money?
    Retiring before full retirement age may be a personal choice or one that is thrust upon you because of circumstances, such as declining health or job loss. If you need the income that Social Security is scheduled to provide, however reduced, then taking benefits early may be the only choice for you.
  2. Consider the Needs of Your Spouse
    If your spouse expects to depend on your Social Security income, the survivor benefits he or she receives after your death may be reduced substantially if you begin taking benefits early. It’s important to remember that, based on current life expectancy tables, women are likely to live longer than men.
  3. Are You Healthy?
    The primary risk in retirement is running out of money. The odds of living a long life in retirement calls for waiting until you reach full retirement age, so that you receive a full benefit for as long as you live. However, if your current health is poor, then starting earlier may make sense for you.

There are several elements you should evaluate before you start claiming Social Security. By determining your priorities and other income opportunities, you may be able to better decide at what age benefits make the most sense.

  1. Social Security Administration, 2018
  2. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

 

 

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

 

The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.

 

The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.


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Tags: Financial Planning, Lump Sum, Pension, Retirement Planning