Should You Wait to File for Social Security?

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated December 8, 2020

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December 8, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Social Security can help make life after 60 more comfortable. A lot of people, however, wonder when they should take their benefits. While that’s not an easy question to answer, there are some things you should think about before taking advantage of your benefits.

Most use Social Security to supplement retirement savings and pensions. If you want to retire as soon as possible, then you may want to start getting your benefits as soon as you turn 62.

Know, however, that you will not get your full benefits. In fact, you will on get 75 percent of your monthly payment. The amount will not go up as you get older. Once you choose to take Social Security early, there is no turning back.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get less money. Over time, you may get more money from Social Security depending on how long you take benefits.

For those that want their benefits in full, they’ll have to retire at 66. If you wait longer, however, you can get even more money. Your benefits will increase by 8 percent per year until you turn 70. By waiting until 70, you can get 132 percent of your benefits. Hardly anyone waits until 70 to take advantage of their benefits, though.

Deciding when to take your Social Security benefits forces you to think about how long you can expect to live in good health. Unless you have a serious health condition, it’s almost impossible to predict such a thing.

When confronted with the idea of early retirement, many decide to take the benefits because they don’t know how long they will live. If they pass away at 70, then early retirement is a good financial risk. If they live to 100, they could have gotten more money by waiting.

Since there isn’t a way to know how long you will live, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to base this decision entirely on how much money you can get from Social Security. Instead, think about what you want to do with the money.

If you’re a person who can’t wait to retire, then it probably makes sense to get your benefits when you’re 65 or younger. If you enjoy working, then you might as well wait for a bigger payout.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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