Broker Check

Social Security

When Should I Start Social Security?

When Should I Start Social Security?

One of the must-answer questions for anyone retiring is when to start Social Security.  For most people, this is between ages 62-70 and the longer they wait, the larger the check.  Typically, this leads to some back of the envelope math to figure out how long they need to live to break-even, presuming they don’t start until age 70.  In other words, they missed Social Security from age 62 to 70, so how many of those larger checks from age 70 and beyond are needed to make up for the lost years before age 70?

This simplified calculation does not cover all the nuances.  For a married couple, which spouse should start first and when?  Does either spouse qualify for a spousal benefit (i.e. 50% of the higher wage earners Social Security check)?  If the person is divorced or a widow(er), who’s benefit are they eligible for and when?  If they retire and delay Social Security, is it worthwhile to spend investments for a higher Social Security check or is it better to start a smaller Social Security check to preserve investments?

Most of these questions can be answered the same way – it depends.

Here is an example illustrating the portfolio impact of retiring at 62 and starting Social Security at age 62 vs. age 70.  Of course, even this result is not ubiquitous for everyone since your investments and withdrawal amounts may be different.  But it spotlights how Social Security timing cannot be isolated to the amount of the Social Security check now vs. later.

If you would like guidance through your Social Security decisions, please consider scheduling an appointment.