Deciding when to claim Social Security can be tricky. There are a lot of things to consider, not the least of which is how Social Security fits into your overall retirement strategy. The fact is, Social Security was never intended to be your sole source of retirement income, so understanding how it fits into your broader retirement plan is key. In other words, deciding when you are financially able to retire from work, and deciding when to claim your Social Security benefit are two separate things. Nevertheless, there are consequences if you don’t properly coordinate the two.
Claiming Social Security before reaching your full retirement age will result in a smaller payment, but working while collecting Social Security early can result in even fewer benefits. Waiting longer to claim will result in a higher monthly payment, but that only makes sense if your life expectancy is at least average. Marital status is important too, because waiting to claim a higher benefit can mean a correspondingly higher survivor benefit for your spouse. Point is, deciding when to claim Social Security should be done while looking at your complete circumstances, as explained in this encore Ask Rusty article. If you prefer to listen instead of read, go to this podcast.