When should you file for Social Security retirement benefits? It’s a question that every retiree faces. It’s an important decision because it could have a profound impact on your financial stability in retirement. It’s also irreversible. Once you choose to file, you can’t change your decision at a later date.
Your Social Security benefit amount is based on a few factors, primarily your career earnings and your age when you file. Generally, the higher your career earnings, the greater your benefit amount. Similarly, the older you are when you file, the higher your benefit amount is likely to be. That means the timing of your filing is critical.
Many retirees are tempted to file as soon as they become eligible. However, that may not always be the wisest decision. Your filing should be based on your specific needs and goals. A financial professional can help you decide when is the right time for you to file for benefits.
You’re eligible to file for Social Security benefits as early as age 62. That’s considered an early filing, however, and doing so could reduce your benefit amount. The amount of the reduction depends on your age when you file and your full retirement age (FRA).
The closer you are to your FRA when you file, the lower the reduction will be. However, it could be as high as 35 percent. This is the reduction amount if you have an FRA of 67 and file when you turn age 62, the earliest possible filing date.1
Keep in mind that this reduction is permanent. Your benefit could increase because of cost-of-living adjustments, but it will always be lower than your payment would have been if you’d waited until your FRA to file. If you have no other options for income, however, filing early may be a wise decision.
Filing at Full Retirement Age
You can avoid benefit reductions by filing at your FRA. Most people have an FRA of 66 or 67. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your FRA is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, your FRA is 67. If you were born between 1954 and 1960, your FRA is some point between your 66th and 67th birthdays.2
If you file at your FRA, your benefit will be based entirely on your career earnings. There are no reductions or credits based on the timing of your benefit. You can get an estimate of your full retirement benefit from the Social Security Administration.
There’s nothing saying you have to file at your FRA. In fact, you could benefit by waiting past your FRA to file. That’s because Social Security offers a benefit amount credit for every year you delay your filing past your FRA.
For each year you wait, Social Security will credit 8 percent to your benefit amount. You can delay your filing up to age 70. That means if your FRA is 66 and you wait until age 70, you get four years of credits, for a cumulative increase of 32 percent. Again, these credits are permanent, so they could have a big impact on your financial stability in retirement. If you can afford to wait, it may be wise to do so.
Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Peak Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
The material is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The insurance agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. Clients should seek guidance from the Social Security Administration regarding their particular situation. The insurance agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. Social Security benefit payout rates can and will change at the sole discretion of the Social Security Administration. For more information, please consult a local Social Security Administration office, or visit www.ssa.gov
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