The Social Security Administration has said that “there are no right or wrong answers” regarding when someone eligible for benefits should begin drawing them, instead suggesting that individuals look at several key factors in making that decision.
Under Social Security, those who have put in sufficient quarters of covered work can begin drawing benefits at a reduced rate at age 62, standard benefits at their “full” retirement age (currently 66, with a phase-in of up to age 67 ahead) or enhanced benefits after that age, with increases phased up until starting at age 70.
Long-term, the reductions in benefits on one side of full retirement age and the increases on the other side are designed to about make benefits come out equally regardless of when in the 62-70 age range they begin.
Factors that may drive a choice, SSA says, include:
“Anticipate what your expenses will be in retirement, including things like mortgage payments or rent, utilities, healthcare insurance and related costs, food, personal care, car payments and maintenance, entertainment, hobbies, travel, and credit card or other debt. Also, consider whether you’ll need to provide for your spouse, children, or grandchildren.”
“Secure your financial future with a retirement portfolio that includes savings, investments, and possibly a pension plan. If you’re willing and able, you may choose to increase your income by working past retirement age . . . Most financial advisers say you will need about 70 percent of pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement, including your Social Security benefits, investments, and other savings.”
“Anticipate the length of your retirement, keeping in mind that many American workers will live much longer than the “average” retiree. Consider your health, family longevity, and lifestyle. Your Social Security retirement benefits will provide continuous income for as long as you live, protecting you even if your other sources of income run out.”
ask.FEDweek.com: Social Security Benefits in Federal Retirement