There tends to be an awful lot of advice flying around regarding when you should claim Social Security. The most common answer I hear from other advisers is that you should wait until age 70. That’s not always the case. Today, I thought we would talk about what the factors are that help to determine when you should claim SS.

1. Your health: This is the most obvious factor. The longer your life expectancy, the longer you should wait to claim benefits. The break-evens for ages 62 vs. 66 are ages 78 and 79 and the break-evens for 66 vs. 70 are ages 82 and 83. This is the technically correct answer. It’s not to say that if you think you are going to live a long time you should necessarily wait until age 70. There are many other reasons to claim it earlier.

2. Your current savings: The amount of money you have saved for retirement is a major determining factor for when you should claim. The more you have saved, the longer you can potentially afford to wait before claiming SS. Why? Because every year you don’t claim benefits, your benefit amount increases by 8%. A guaranteed 8% is most likely more than you’re going to get on your investments so take advantage of it. Conversely, if you haven’t saved a lot then you may need to take money earlier even if you expect to live a long time.

3. Your spouse’s SS benefits: What your spouse expects to receive in benefits may help determine both when and how you should claim your SS benefits. This includes ex-spouses if married for 10 or more years.

4. Your lifestyle both now and in the future: What’s more important to you: getting a higher total benefit by waiting as long as possible or having use of the lesser benefit now when you can enjoy it more? Again, even if you expect to live a long time, you may not care as much about having significantly more income at age 85 than you do at 66. If you plan to travel for example, then the money today may enhance your retirement experience more than it will at an age where you may not physically be able to do all of the things you can today.

5. Your spouse’s future needs: Though you may not expect to live a long time, you need to consider whether your spouse will. This is particularly important if your benefits are dramatically different. Once you die, your spouse gets the higher of yours or their SS, not both. If you want to maximize the benefit to them, assuming you don’t have much life insurance, then you may want to consider waiting to improve their income for the remainder of their life.

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations surrounding when to claim Social Security, and therefore, you may want to consider discussing them with your financial adviser before you decide.

T. Eric Reich, CIMA, CFP, CLU, ChFC is president and founder of Reich Asset Management and can be reached at 609-486-5073 or eric@reichassetmanagement.com.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Reich Asset Management, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

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