Personal Finance

2 Reasons It's Dumb to Take Social Security Benefits at 62

Social Security Dumb

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who is a bigger advocate of taking Social Security as soon as possible -- at age 62. Study after study has shown that when we enter retirement, our levels of happiness, contentment, and relaxation skyrocket -- while anxiety plummets. I would wager that autonomy over time -- which is the direct result of the freedom Social Security can help provide -- is the main reason.

Social Security Dumb

Image source: Author illustration, based on Social Security Administration information for those born before 1955.

Of course, the trick here is to firmly establish where your "enough" level really is. Once you begin putting off Social Security purely to increase your monthly check -- and after your basic needs can be met -- you are unwittingly sacrificing the freedom of your increasingly limited time.

2. Consider where your partner will be once you pass away

Here's a crucial Social Security rule to remember: When you pass away, your spouse will keep the higher of your two monthly benefits. That means that, no matter what, the size of the monthly deposit arriving in your joint bank account will go down. Just how much it will go down is up to you.

Consider this: A married couple -- Pat and Robin -- worked hard during their younger years, but for various reasons, they were not able to save very much. Therefore, they will be relying on Social Security for the bulk of their retirement income. After they run the numbers, the couple determines that they could both file for benefits at 62 and make ends meet.

However, there are two other factors to consider:

  1. Because of a history of higher-paying jobs, Pat is eligible for a much higher Social Security benefit than Robin.
  2. Pat's life expectancy is much shorter than Robin's, based on both family history and personal health.
    Retirement Savings Couple Piggy Bank

    Image source: Getty Images.

When you combine these two facts, it might actually make more sense for Pat to delay filing for benefits until as late as possible. It's highly likely Robin will outlive Pat, and Pat wants to make sure Robin is left with enough money to make ends meet.

The only way to do this is for Pat to delay -- for as long as reasonably possible up until age 70 -- filing for Social Security.

As you can see, the very process of deciding when to file for Social Security can be a confusing one. That's why it's important to take inventory of what it is you really want out of retirement, and figure out the strategy that best fits your own personal situation.

Often times, I think this means claiming benefits as soon as possible. But as you can see above, there are times where it's simply dumb to claim Social Security at age 62.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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