There are so many factors that go into deciding when to claim your benefits. For some, waiting until 70 may not be the best option. The trade-off, you can get your benefits earlier, but you could also leave money on the table. The question becomes how to decide what’s best for you. Financial advisor and author Geoff Schmidt outlines some interesting ways to determine what age to claim your benefits.
Schmidt pinpoints three criteria to help make your decision: Break-even calculation, your individual situation, and the ability to unlock other benefits.
Breaking-even in terms of Social Security means when the amount of the benefit you take at a certain age equals the same amount you’d receive if you claim your benefits earlier. It can be a little confusing, but a break-even calculator is a vital tool to help you figure out what age to file.
Depending on your situation you can file early to claim spousal or survival benefits, especially if those benefits are higher than yours. You must file when your partner files to claim those benefits.
Other reasons to file early are your individual life expectancy and physicality. Many healthy people want to claim their benefits to spend on travel and entertainment while they can. Also, it can take a while for your benefits to “break-even,” and if you’re considered at all you might not live to see it, then file when you can.
Finally, Schmidt’s final reason is that you might just need the money. That’s okay too. Life can be complicated, and retirement is expensive. Unforeseen housing costs or a messy divorce can throw wrenches into your plans.
Try to figure out what you want out of this next chapter in life. Ask all the questions you can and stay informed about your benefits to feel empowered and in control of your retirement.