Making the decision to retire comes with a lot of considerations, and one of the most important is how to handle Social Security benefits. For many Americans, claiming Social Security after turning 62 — the youngest age you can do so — is an obvious choice. However, this decision can have long-term consequences, and it’s essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.
In this article, we will discuss whether or not it’s a good idea to claim Social Security benefits at 62, and what factors you should consider before doing so. We’ll examine the potential implications for your retirement income and overall financial security so that you can make an informed and confident choice about your future.
Negative Effects of Claiming Social Security at 62
As we start to examine whether it’s a good idea to claim Social Security when you turn 62, let’s look at some of the negative impacts that it can have on your finances.
Your Monthly Payments and Lifetime Value Will Be Affected
By choosing to start collecting once you reach the age of 62, you could see as much as a 30% reduction in your benefit amounts compared to waiting until your full retirement age (which is 67 for anyone born after 1960). However, each year you choose to delay collecting Social Security benefits, you’ll receive an 8% raise in terms of your benefit amount.
Delayed Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs)
In addition to receiving lower monthly payments, your cost-of-living adjustments will also be affected when you file for Social Security before full retirement age. In 2023, the scheduled COLA is 8.7%. If your monthly benefit amount is $1,500, that means you’ll receive an extra $130.50 each month. However, if you’re born after 1960 and claim Social Security benefits before your full retirement age, you’d only receive a $91.35 increase in monthly benefits.
Working in Retirement Will Reduce Your Benefits
If you choose to retire and claim Social Security benefits before your full retirement age, you should understand the Social Security earnings test.
“In 2023, if you make more than $21,240, the Social Security Administration, for every dollar earned over that amount, will withhold one dollar in benefits,” says David Freitag, a financial planning consultant, and Social Security expert with MassMutual.
Even though your benefits will be reduced today, you’ll eventually be paid back the month once you reach full retirement age. Freitag goes on to say, “The withheld benefits are not paid back to the worker in a lump sum at full retirement age. They are paid back gradually over an assumed life expectancy.”
Positive Effects of Claiming Social Security at 62
While there are several reasons why claiming Social Security benefits at 62 can affect you negatively, there are also some benefits to consider.
You’ll Start Receiving Benefits Immediately
Even though your benefit amount might be lower, electing to receive Social Security benefits at age 62 means you’ll start receiving money immediately. Depending on your situation, this can have an impact on your quality of life. For example, if you’re in less than ideal health, immediate income can help you cover your bills if you’re unable to work.
The immediate income can also be helpful for someone who hasn’t accumulated enough additional retirement savings. “Social Security benefits can serve as a financial lifeline, ensuring essential expenses are covered and providing a sense of security during the early retirement years,” says Tony Matheson, CFP, founder of Matheson Financial Partners.
By choosing to receive benefits at age 62, you’re giving yourself a little more flexibility financially. You could choose to use your benefits to pay off debt (potentially the rest of your mortgage). You could also use your benefits to pay for your monthly expenses while continuing to let your tax-advantaged retirement accounts continue to grow.
It Makes Sense With a Shorter Life Expectancy
Delaying benefits can have a considerable impact on your overall earnings amount if you expect to live a long life. However, if your life expectancy is shorter, it might make sense to start claiming your benefits at age 62 to earn what you can from day one.
Anyone is eligible to begin receiving Social Security benefits once they reach age 62. Just be aware that your benefits could be reduced by up to 30% by choosing not to wait until your full retirement age.
By considering all the pros and cons to claiming Social Security at age 62, you’ll be able to make a decision based on what’s best for your situation.
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