Social Security -- When's the right time?
Many Americans don't know you can start collecting benefits as early as age 62 - but is that right for you?
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Did you know you can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62? Many Americans do it, but it may not be the best plan of action for YOU. And get this - every year you delay collecting Social Security, the amount you'll eventually receive increases. That happens up until you reach "full retirement age," usually 67.
So, when's the best time to start? In today's top tips, we'll tell you what you should consider.
1: Break it down
The bottom line is, there's no "one size fits all" answer - you've got to consider your own personal circumstances. The first step is to get a rough estimate of how much money you'll receive in a few different scenarios. You can do this on the Social Security Administration's web site - that's www.socialsecurity.gov. By using the online calculator, you can find out how much bigger your check will be if you start collecting at 67 or 65, rather than 62.
2: Do the math
Next, think about your guaranteed income - that's money that you'll have coming in as long as you live, such as a pension. That, plus your Social Security payment, is going to have to be enough for you to live on for the rest of your life. But even if you do think you'd be comfortable with that, it pays to spend an extra few years working, says Bernard Wasow, Senior Fellow & Economist at The Century Foundation. Don't count too much on your savings or investments. They'll be a nice cushion, but if you live for a long time, they could run out.
3: Consider health
This may sound morbid, but if no one in your family has lived past the age of 70, you may want to consider starting to collect Social Security earlier rather than later. On the other hand, if you're in good health, and your relatives have a tendency to live to ripe, old ages, delaying your benefit for a few years might not be a bad idea. Again, you would lock in a higher payment for life.
4: Ask the experts!
Remember - Social Security is complicated, and everyone's situation is different. The Social Security Administration recommends that people talk to one its representatives at least a year before they plan to sign up for benefits. They'll take a close look at your particular situation, and give you advice based on what they see. You can call them toll free at 1-800-772-1213, or pay a visit to your local Social Security office.
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