S is for Social Security and Everything you Need to Know

S is for Social Security and Everything you Need to Know

Elder couple having a serious problem

The details and choices surrounding your Social Security benefit can be overwhelming at times. For example, it can be difficult to gauge when the best time to start withdrawing your benefits can be. Or if you should take your spouse’s benefit before your own. There are a lot of different options for collecting your social security before and after retirement. Finding the best one that fits your needs can be challenging and isn’t always easy to navigate.

When am I eligible to collect Social Security benefits?

You can start collecting your social security benefits as early as age 62. But your benefits will be reduced by up to 25% for the rest of your life. So it is best if you can afford to wait until full retirement age (FRA) or later. As of 2021, FRA is 66 years old. But, if you delay your benefits until 70, you can increase them by up to 8%.

When should I collect them?

If you are financially able to, it is best to wait as long as possible to collect Social Security for the maximum benefit amount. Especially if you plan on working until FRA, there is no point in collecting beforehand. That being said, there are a few things to consider. Will you be working until your FRA? Have you saved adequately to not rely on Social Security benefits before and during retirement? Are you the primary earner in your household, or is it your spouse? Talking with a financial advisor can help steer you in the direction that fits your needs best.

Does my marital status affect my benefits?

In short, yes. There is a strategy to be had if you are or have been married when collecting benefits. Typically, you would want to delay the larger benefit until 70 and perhaps have the lower-earning spouse claim early at 62 if they have stopped working or at FRA once they retire. This strategy will maximize benefits for both spouses. If you are a survivor, you can claim 100% of your deceased spouse’s benefits. If you are divorced, you may be entitled to your ex-spouse’s benefit if it is more significant than yours.

While there are a lot of different variations in claiming your Social Security benefits, it makes sense to plan strategically to take your maximum benefit. Of course, this is easier said than done, so talk to a financial advisor today to start preparing for your social security benefits and your retirement plan.

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