When is it best to begin drawing Social Security Benefits?

When I first began working in the late ‘70s, I was told, “Don’t worry about Social Security – it won’t be around for you!” 

Now that I’m about 10 years from being eligible to draw Social Security, and it is still around, I got curious about what my options really are. Here are a few things I found out. Retirement age is now a moving target.  If you were born after1960, your official retirement age is 67.  Check this chart to see your retirement age if you were born before 1960.

When can you begin drawing Social Security? 

You can start drawing benefits up to 36 months before your retirement age but you will receive a reduced amount. Your monthly check will be reduced by 5/9 of a percent for each month you draw early. 

For example, if you start drawing benefits a full 36 months early, your check will be reduced by 5/9 x 36 = 20%.  So, a $1,000 benefit at age 65 will pay $800 per month if you start at age 62. 

When is it best to take Social Security? 

Well, that depends on several factors but your decision boils down to this:
If you retire:
  • Before your full retirement age, your benefit will be smaller but you will receive it for a longer period of time.

  • At your full retirement age or later, you will receive a larger monthly benefit for a shorter period of time. 

Before deciding whether or not to take Social Security benefits early, it’s important to plan out how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement. But because none of us knows the future, we have to take some educated guesses when making our decision. Here a few questions the Social Security Administration suggests you think through: 

  • Do you plan on continuing to work while drawing Social Security?

  • Are you in good health and have a family history of longevity?

  • Will you have health insurance?

  • Are you eligible for benefits on someone else’s record?

  • Do you have other benefits to support you if you decide to delay taking your benefits?

  • Will other family members qualify with you on your record?

If you’re not sure about what you’ll need to retire comfortably, why not sit down with one of our Financial Consultants.  They can help you figure out what resources you have and what you will need to make the best decision possible for when to draw your Social Security benefits. 

The Social Security Administration website is full of information about how your benefits work today.  

Watch this video to learn 5 more facts about Social Security Benefits

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About Author

Bill Burpeau
Bill Burpeau

Bill Burpeau is a relationship manager at Hanscom FCU. As a Credit Union Certified Financial Counselor, he is an enthusiastic advocate of financial literacy and education. He constantly studies and is up to date with the latest financial management concepts and technology. Bill is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a BBA in Business Management and served in the U.S. Navy as a Supply Officer.

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