Getting a Fast Start on Social Security

You can start to receive Social Security any time between the ages of 62 and 70. (If you’re still working, some benefits may be withheld up to age 66.) For each year you wait, your checks increase about 8 percent. Nevertheless, there are reasons why some people should start Social Security as soon as possible:

Need. If you have no other source of income and you are unable to keep working, you may have little choice except to start Social Security benefits. In this situation, a smaller check is better than going for years without any checks.

Health. People who have serious medical conditions may not live long enough to receive many of the larger checks that will come to those who wait. For such individuals, it probably will make sense to begin benefits as soon as possible, and get as many payments as possible.

Tax deferral. Some seniors rely heavily on their IRAs for retirement income. There are no required minimum distributions until age 70 1/2. Before that age, people can start Social Security benefits for retirement income, thus keep more money in their IRA for a longer time, extending tax-deferred buildup.