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When should I start taking Social Security?

When to begin receiving your Social Security benefits is one of the most important decisions you will make in retirement. Many factors such as your health, financial position and desire to continue working will come into play when making this decision.

The amount of your monthly benefit is determined by the age at which benefits begin. To put it simply, the earlier you start benefits, the less you will receive each month and, conversely, the longer you wait to start benefits, the more you will receive each month.

You must first determine your Full Retirement Age which varies depending on your year of birth. For those born in 1943 or later, the FRA is between ages 66-67.  If you start your payments at your FRA, then you will receive 100% of your calculated benefit known as your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).  You are eligible to begin your benefits as early as age 62 but your monthly benefit would be reduced by a formula depending on the number of months before your FRA.  If you were to delay your payments until after your FRA, you would receive an 8% increase in your payment for each year of delayed filing, up to age 70.  So for each month of delay, you would receive an increase of 2/3% (1/12 of 8%).

If your FRA was 66, then the percentage of your full benefit or PIA would fall within the following parameters:

Age 62                  75% of your full benefit

Age 66                  100% of your full benefit

Age 70                  132% of your full benefit

In a nutshell, this is the formula used to calculate your monthly retirement benefit. Again, the decision of when to file will depend on many factors including your life expectancy and relative financial position at retirement.

 

*The information in this blog post is general in nature and not intended as specific advice.  Please consult a tax advisor to see how this information applies to your specific situation. 

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