Does it Make Sense to take Social Security at Age 62?

August 23, 2018

 
Age sixty-two has long been one of the most common ages at which to claim Social Security benefits, even as many experts repeatedly advise waiting as long as possible. Waiting to claim Social Security benefits is recommended because your benefits are reduced if you retire before full retirement age (65 - 67) and they increase up until age 70. But just because you may get a larger monthly check by waiting to start your benefits doesn't mean delaying is the smart choice for everyone. Here are four sound reasons to take Social Security at age 62:
 
1. You understand that no one can predict the future
When you're advised to wait to claim Social Security benefits, the reason is simple: You may be able to get more total benefits by delaying, since your monthly Social Security income goes up if you wait to claim.  The thinking is that eventually that higher income will make up for the years of benefits you didn't collect. But that is only true if you live past the point where you break even. Since no one is printed with an expiration date, it’s impossible to know if you would actually be better off waiting. There's a solid argument to be made that the smarter move is to take the dollars you're given today, rather than hoping you'll live long enough to get more hypothetical dollars a decade or more in the future. 
 
2. You want to enjoy life while you can
The older you get, the more likely it is you'll start to develop health problems. Would you rather have money now to travel or indulge your hobbies -- or have extra cash later when you've developed limitations due to medical issues?
Around 92% of seniors suffer from one or more chronic conditions, and just over 3/4 of seniors suffer from at least two. There's little sense in waiting to get a benefit that's a few hundred dollars bigger if you won't be able to enjoy spending it on the activities you love. 
 
3. You want to help a spouse earn better benefits
If you're married, the goal shouldn't be to maximize your Social Security benefits. It should be to maximize the benefits you receive as a couple. It could make sense to sacrifice your higher benefits to help boost your spouse's Social Security income. Here are two such scenarios: 

Let's say your spouse earned a lot more money than you. If you both want to retire, you may need some Social Security income to live off of. If you can claim your benefits at 62, your higher-earning spouse could put off claiming. Not only would you end up with a higher total monthly benefit in the long run when you both start claiming, but survivor benefits are also structured so that no matter which spouse passes away, the one left behind gets to keep the higher benefits. 
 
Alternatively, sometimes one spouse earns a lot of money and the other doesn't work or earns very little. In this circumstance, the bread-winner may want to claim benefits at 62 in order to make it possible for the other spouse to claim benefits based on the higher earner's work record. Spousal benefits can equal up to 50% of the Social Security check received by the primary beneficiary, but these spousal benefits aren't available until the primary beneficiary has begun claiming. As the main earner, claiming at 62 could be a good choice because your benefit plus your spouse’s benefit may be worth more than your benefit alone at or beyond full retirement age.
 
Should you take Social Security benefits at 62? The important thing to remember is that different people benefit from claiming benefits at different times. You may also need money at different times, depending on the other types of retirement income you have, and your living expenses.  We’re here to help you make choices that work for you and your unique circumstance, and can offer Social Security benefit advice as part of your comprehensive retirement strategy.

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