Friday, October 9, 2015

What Age Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?

Oct. 9, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I want to receive my Social Security benefits as soon as I can so I can retire from my job.  What age should I claim my Social Security benefits? Waiting on Social Security, Alabama

Dear Waiting on Social Security:

Most employees are waiting on the magic age of 62 so they can retire.  This is when they can claim their Social Security benefits.  However, if they live beyond their means (spending more money than they can afford) after retirement, they will find themselves looking for another job.

The full retirement age was 65 for many years, but now it’s 66.  So remember, the earliest a person can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits will remain age 62.

To calculate your Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration ( will look at many things including the yearly cost-of-living adjustments or COLAs but on average, the benefits are around $1,234 a month, which is not a lot of money. 

However, many Seniors today don’t receive any funds but their Social Security benefits so they have to pay for housing, food and other bills on this small amount.  

This is why many Seniors are living way below the poverty line and don't have access to good food, clothing and shelter.

The goal is to boost your payout.  The amount of your Social Security payments depends on your earnings history, the age you sign up, and the dependents you have.

Many people believe you can claim Social Security early and still get full benefits.  This myth is not only wrong but also dangerous.  When retirees claim their Social Security benefits, they lock in those benefits for life.

Applying for benefits as soon as eligibility begins at age 62 will entitle you to monthly checks immediately.  But when you claim early, your benefits will be 25 percent less than if you had waited until your full retirement age and 75 percent to 80 percent less than if you’d been able to hold off until 70.

If you start receiving benefits as a spouse at your full retirement age, you will get 50% of the monthly benefits your spouse would receive if his or her benefits started at full retirement age. 

Claiming early may still be the right move for some people, such as those with serious medical issues or a family history that suggests they’re not likely to live to a ripe old age.

But with people living longer and retirement sometimes lasting decades, it’s best to make good calculations and see if you can wait longer in order to collect more.  Only you can make this important decision.

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