At age 62, most of us are eligible to receive Social Security benefits. The desire to retire, to work less or not at all, and to begin drawing on retirement funds is understandable. In retirement, delayed gratification can be extremely valuable.
We can claim Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, and most retirees begin collecting their payouts between ages 62 and 63. When to start collecting is a tricky decision. Social Security assigns each of us a “full retirement age” at which we can begin collecting the full benefits to which we are entitled, based on our earnings history. Most of us reach retirement age at 66 or 67, or somewhere in between. It might not be wise to begin collecting Social Security benefits at the age of 62. Check to see if any of the below situations apply to you.
Retirement savings may be behind.
A significant reason why many people should consider not collecting early is that they may be behind in their retirement savings. It was reported in the 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey that 34% of workers have less than $25,000 in savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home; even worse, 19% have less than $1,000 in savings.
The amount of money you have accumulated may not be enough to support you for several decades in retirement, even if you have accumulated $400,000. If you are considering relying heavily on Social Security, you should know that the average monthly retirement benefit is just $1,669, or approximately $20,000 annually. (Some collect somewhat more than that, and some collect less.)
People who are behind in saving and investing for retirement should consider working longer to accumulate more income that can be invested for the future. The benefits of working longer include reducing the years at which your retirement nest egg will be required to support you and possibly allowing you to remain on your employer’s health insurance plan for an extended period. (Medicare does not accept you until you are 65.)
Delaying Social Security can increase your benefits.
It’s also important to remember that starting to collect your Social Security benefits before your full retirement age makes them smaller — but you can increase them by delaying. Your retirement benefits will increase by about 8% each year you delay starting to collect them beyond your full retirement age. By delaying from 67 to 70, your benefits can increase by 24%.
It makes sense for some to claim at 62
For many of us, the reasons above should be compelling. Is it possible to have a fat retirement account worth $1 million or more after a long period of saving and investing? Retirement early and collecting smaller Social Security checks might be good if you can afford it.
Starting early can also be beneficial if you have a good chance of living a shorter life than average. While your checks will be smaller, you may get more out of the program than if you put it off.
A lot of people have to begin collecting retirement early, as they are no longer in the workforce for no fault of their own. It is wise to save aggressively and invest effectively so that a large nest egg will be available as soon as possible. Because this could happen at any time to any of us, saving aggressively and investing effectively is wise.
There is no one-size-fits-all best time to begin collecting Social Security benefits. You should consider your situation, read up on Social Security, and coordinate any strategy with your spouse. It is a wise decision for many, if not most, to delay collecting benefits until after 62.