Over the length of your career, you've paid into Social Security, knowing that it will be an important part of your retirement budget. While Social Security was never meant to be anyone's sole source of income in retirement, it's still important to plan carefully so that you receive the maximum benefits possible.
You may already know that there are different ages at which you can claim Social Security benefits. Full retirement age is usually age 66 or 67, depending upon your birth year. This is the year at which you can claim your full scheduled benefits. Retiring early, as early as age 62, will net you a smaller benefit for life. On the other hand, if you postpone retirement, you will earn a 7 percent increase in your benefits for each year that you wait to file for Social Security (up to age 70). There's quite a lot of disparity between the check you could receive by retiring at age 62 versus the check you would receive each month if you wait until age 70.
The age at which you retire doesn't just affect your monthly benefits check. Spousal benefits can also be affected. If your spouse never worked outside the home, the spousal benefit may be an important part of your retirement budget. It's important to keep in mind that spousal benefits are calculated at 50 percent of the higher-earning spouse's benefit amount. Therefore, the age at which the higher-earning spouse retires and claims benefits affects not just one monthly check, but two!
Clearly, claiming benefits early at age 62 could have a negative impact on both of your Social Security checks. On the other hand, waiting until later and claiming a higher check will not affect the lower-earning spouse's check at all. Spousal benefits will still be based on the original benefit amount you would have received at full retirement age. Therefore, you can make a little money by waiting beyond your full retirement age, but not as much as you may have hoped.
As you're planning for your retirement, remember to prepare for the fact that one of you will someday be surviving without the other. Social Security provides something called a survivor's benefit, which is based on the age of the surviving spouse. The rules for these benefits are tricky and difficult for many people to decipher. But since sound financial planning is the key to a successful retirement, remember to consult with your financial advisor about Social Security and other sources of income.
This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.
The presenters of information are not associated with, or endorsed by, the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.
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