Social Security: How to Choose a Filing Age if You Have a Sizable Nest Egg Already
You have options when it comes to filing for Social Security benefits as a senior. You can sign up at age 62 if you have already retired and you need the income. But if you wait until you reach full retirement age (FRA), which ranges from 66 to 67 years old depending on the year you were born, you can claim your full monthly benefit.
For each month past your FRA that you delay filing, your benefit amount increases. These increases stop when you reach age 70, according to SSA.gov.
If you are relying on Social Security as your primary means of income in retirement, you may want to wait until age 70 if you can. That will allow you to pull the maximum benefits. However, if you need that money to live, you may have to take the reduced benefit amount.
If you already have a substantial retirement income from a 401(k), IRA or other investments, you have more flexibility to decide as to when to file for Social Security. You may want to consult with a financial advisor and do the math to see whether filing early or waiting until FRA will give you the best return.
First, consider how much your other retirement investments are earning each year you keep them in the account. It might make sense to file for Social Security early and leave your 401(k) money where it is. Also consider the tax ramifications of drawing from your 401(k), which is a tax-deferred account. Taxes on your 401(k) could reduce your available income.
Also, decide if pulling from your Social Security benefits before age 70 could improve your quality of life while you’re still young enough to enjoy the money. If those extra Social Security funds could make it possible to travel, do some home improvements you’ve been putting off, or pursue expensive hobbies in retirement, you may want to file as early as age 62.
On the other hand, if you can wait to file for Social Security until age 70, do so. You’ll maximize your benefits. If you find you still don’t need the money at that point, you can put it in a trust for your grandchildren, donate it to a cause after your death or use it to help support a favorite charitable cause now.