Ask Yourself These 6 Questions Before Applying for Social Security

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 7, 2020

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June 26, 2018

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Deciding when to apply for Social Security benefits is often more complicated than people suspect. Ask yourself these six questions before you submit your application. Your answers could help you earn more benefits and avoid common mistakes.

Social Security benefits vary depending on how old you are when you retire. If you were born after 1937, you will lose about:

  • 30 percent of your benefit if you retire at 62
  • 25 percent if you retire at 63
  • 20 percent at 64
  • 13.3 percent if you retire at 65
  • 6.7 percent at 66

You’ll have to wait until you’re 67 to retire with full Social Security benefits.

If you have a lot of money saved for retirement, then you might not mind losing some of your Social Security benefits. Then again, most Americans don’t save much money, so you may want to wait until you qualify for your full benefits from the Social Security Administration.

A simple life in a relatively small home doesn’t take a lot of money to support. Constant travel and gifts for the grandchildren, however, can cost quite a bit. The type of lifestyle you plan to lead should affect when you retire and when you start collecting Social Security. You may consider downsizing your current lifestyle for a more comfortable retirement.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 32 percent of Americans ages 65 to 69 work part-time jobs. That percentage is expected to increase over the coming years.

Working a part-time job means that you’ll earn extra money to support your lifestyle. That extra money, however, could negatively affect your Social Security benefits and force you to pay higher taxes. Review your finances carefully before you decide to take a part-time job during retirement.

If you’ve taken care of your body and mind throughout life, then you’re probably pretty healthy for your age. That’s good news because healthy people tend to spend less money on health care services and medication.

Good health also means that you’ll probably live longer than your peers who didn’t care for themselves. As you get older, your health care expenses will almost certainly increase. If you’re not getting your full Social Security benefit, then you could find it difficult to pay for your medical bills during your 80s, 90s and beyond.

Most people delay claiming their benefits because they want to collect more money. Some also enjoy their careers, so they’re not ready to retire until their late 60s.

Seniors have an array of personal reasons for when they take Social Security benefits. As long as you give the decision some thought, you’ll probably make the choice that’s right for you.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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