Financial Expert Marion G. Cuff, CFS: When to Collect Social Security Benefits
Marion G. Cuff, CFS
Should I retire now at age 62 and collect Social Security benefits?
There's no right time to begin collecting Social Security benefits, but the age at which you begin receiving benefits will affect how
much retirement income you have, so you should weigh the consequences carefully.
Keep in mind that if you collect Social Security before your full retirement age, your benefit will be permanently reduced.
Depending on the year you were born, you'll receive between 25 and 30 percent less per month if you collect benefits at age 62
than if you wait until full retirement age to begin collecting benefits. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that collecting benefits
at age 62 is unwise. In fact, unless you live to an especially old age, you may actually end up with more money if you start
collecting Social Security benefits at age 62 than if you wait until full retirement age, because you'll receive more benefit checks.
However, there are also good reasons to wait until full retirement age (or beyond) to start collecting benefits. For example, if you
work full-time past age 62, you'll have the opportunity to increase your eventual retirement benefit, particularly if you are in your
peak earnings years, because your benefit will be figured using your 35 highest earnings years. Additionally, if you'll barely scrape
by after you retire, you may want to receive as much as possible from Social Security each month. If you can wait past full
retirement age to begin collecting benefits, you will receive delayed retirement credits (up until age 70) that will permanently
increase your benefit.
Other things to consider include whether other people will be eligible to receive benefits based on your work record, your eligibility
for Medicare, your estimated life expectancy, and taxes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has several online benefit
estimators available at www.ssa.gov that can help you make an informed decision, and you can sign up at the SSA website for a
my Social Security account so that you can view your online Social Security Statement. Your statement contains a detailed record
of your earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. If you're not registered for an online account
and are not yet receiving benefits, you'll receive a statement in the mail every year, starting at age 60. You can also talk to an SSA
representative by calling (800) 772-1213 if you have questions.
Working with an advisor that holds the CFS designation does not guarantee investment success.
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advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and
cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
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