A good reason to apply for Social Security benefits before age 70?
For millions of hard-working Americans, after decades of pouring money into the Social Security program, the day will come when they can finally reap the financial benefits.
However, even when that time comes, many people will wonder how much they can expect to receive and whether they will be able to live on those monthly checks.
Pay to wait?
Retirees should be aware that even to qualify for social security benefits, an individual must have worked for at least ten years or have accumulated at least forty work credits. And for retirees who decide to collect Social Security at sixty-two — the earliest age to do so — the maximum amount will be $2,324 ($2,364 in 2022). But if a person is able to wait out full retirement age (FRA) – which is currently sixty-six and two months (FRA will gradually increase to sixty-seven over the next few years) – the amount maximum benefit is $3,113. As for the absolute maximum benefits, they currently stand at $3,895 ($4,194 next year) – but be aware that you have to wait until age seventy to make a claim.
“Workers planning for retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on retirement age,” the Social Security Administration (SSA) explains on its website.
“If a worker starts receiving benefits before their normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit,” the SSA website says. “A worker can choose to retire as early as age sixty-two, but this may result in a reduction of up to 30%. Starting to receive benefits after the normal retirement age may result in larger benefits With Deferred Retirement Credits, a person can receive their largest benefit when they retire at age 70.
The big if
In light of these facts, is there really any reason to collect Social Security benefits before the age of seventy? According to personal finance writer Kailey Hagen of The Motley Fool, “For most seniors living to their 80s or beyond, delaying benefits is often the most lucrative option. In some cases, it helps them get $50,000 or more out of the program compared to signing up right away.
However, “there is a big one if there is one. Those who do not reach the age of 80 would generally be better off registering for Social Security much earlier. . . . The problem is, you can never be sure how long you’ll live,” Hagen explained. “So you just have to make your best guess. Some people prefer to hedge their bets by signing up somewhere in the middle, like their FRA. This is another option if you want to take advantage of some of the benefits of delaying without waiting until the age of seventy.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based science and technology editor who has held positions at GoogleThe Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, Asian Week, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.