Social Security benefits can have a huge impact on your retirement, so choosing wisely when deciding your claim age is essential. While everyone’s situation is different, here are three signs you’re ready to start enjoying them now.
1. You have checked the estimated amount of your benefits
You don’t have to wait until you start collecting Social Security to determine how much you will receive. In fact, you can easily check your benefit amount online by creating a mySocialSecurity account.
By checking your statements online, you can see the estimated amount of your benefits based on your actual earnings throughout your career. It’s a good idea to check your benefit amount before you start claiming, just to be sure your expectations are realistic. If you check your returns and find that you won’t receive as much as you thought you would, you may need to do a little more preparation before you start claiming.
2. You understand how your full retirement age affects your benefits
The full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which you will receive 100% of your benefit amount. If you were born in:
- 1959 (and will be 62 in 2021): your FRA is 66 years and 10 months old
- 1960 or later: your FRA is 67 years old
- Before 1960: your FRA is 66 or 66 years old and a certain number of months, depending on the year of your birth
If you start to apply before your FRA, your benefits will be reduced by up to 30%. These reductions are also permanent, which means that you will not see your benefit amount increase once you reach your FRA. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea to claim early, but make sure you know how it will affect the size of your monthly checks.
Additionally, if you delay claiming benefits beyond your FRA (up to age 70), you will receive your full benefit amount plus up to an additional 32% each month. This increase in benefits is also permanent, so if you delay benefits, you will receive larger checks for the rest of your life.
3. You have created a strategy with your spouse
If you and your spouse are both eligible for benefits, it’s a good idea to decide when you both want to apply in order to maximize your monthly income. You can decide that the higher-income spouse should delay benefits, while the lower-income spouse claims early, for example, or you can both decide to apply early or to delay.
In addition, when one spouse dies, the other may be entitled to the full amount of the deceased’s benefit in the form of survivor benefits. If you have reason to believe that the higher-income spouse will not live as long as the other, it might be wise for that person to delay benefits so that the surviving spouse can take advantage of larger checks for more. late in life.
Social Security benefits are an integral part of the retirement puzzle, so it’s important to make sure you’ve done your research before you start claiming. And if you’ve done these three things, it’s a good sign that you’re ready to start taking Social Security.