Is This Why the Average American Should Take Social Security at 62?

Source: .

Source: Social Security .

Why sooner may be better than later

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the likelihood of requiring a hospitalization, being diagnosed with heart disease, or developing cancer increases significantly as we get into our 70s and beyond.

Specifically, 9.3% of Americans between age 55 and 64 report having been hospitalized once in the preceding year, but that number jumps to 19% for those 75 and older.

Similarly, the number of visits to doctors, emergency rooms, or home visits climbs significantly in retirement, too. In 2013, 13.1% of 55 to 64 year old Americans report they didn't have to visit a doctor, head to an ER, or require home healthcare in the preceding year, but only 4.5% of people 75 or older were able to make that same claim.

The CDC also reports that the prevalence of diseases that can significantly impact financial security and quality of life in retirement increases markedly in our 70s as well. Only 15.8% of people age 55 to 64 report that they suffer from heart disease, but that number jumps to 36.3% for people over 75. Meanwhile, 9.3% of people age 55 to 64 have been diagnosed with cancer, but that number more than doubles to 21.4% for people over 75.

Overall, roughly one-third of Americans over 65 report having at least one condition that limits their ability to care for themselves, socialize, or work, and that's a big contrast to the picture often painted of retirees spending their golden years traveling the world, hiking mountains, and taking hot-air balloon rides.

Tying it together

Obviously, many retirees live long and healthy lifestyles that will allow them to fully enjoy the greater income in retirement associated with waiting until 70 to take their Social Security, but medical costs can have a big impact on a retiree's financial security, and the CDC's findings suggest that a lot of retirees will have their lifestyle dramatically affected by their health.

Most people seem to understand this point, but it can sometimes be overlooked when considering the pros and cons of taking Social Security sooner rather than later.

Certainly, creating a retirement plan that takes into consideration the type of retirement lifestyle you want, how much income you'll need to live that lifestyle, and a retirement savings strategy that will allow you to hit your targets is important because it can give you the flexibility to decide when you want to take Social Security. But that plan should also include a frank and honest discussion of your health, and if savings come up short when you retire, and Social Security is the only income that will allow you to live the retirement you hoped for, then it may make sense to claim Social Security early, rather than waiting.

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The article Is This Why the Average American Should Take Social Security at 62? originally appeared on

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