Optimizing Social Security Benefits

Waiting on Social Security BenefitsBrief: When Should I Take Social Security Benefits? (2013). This brief from the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) notes that individuals can take retirement benefits at any time between ages 62 and 70.

Authors Virginia P. Reno, Jasmine V. Tucker, and Elisa A. Walker note that if you are age 62 or older and need Social Security to make ends meet, you should take it. However, there are sound financial reasons to delay taking benefits, particularly if you have access to other financial resources. By waiting, your monthly benefits will be higher for the rest of your life.

If you are the primary earner in a couple, waiting to claim Social Security also means that your spouse will receive a higher survivor benefit if she or he outlives you. Social Security is the safest and most secure income that many retirees have; benefits last for life and keep up with inflation. Conversely, savings and other retirement income often decline with age. Starting Social Security later, with a higher monthly benefit, means more security if you live a long time in retirement. Moreover, the chances of living a long time are greater than many people may think.

If you have given any thought at all to drawing your Social Security benefits – and I know you have if you are a regular reader of this blog – you have probably asked one or more of the following questions: When can I take Social Security retirement benefits? How much difference does it make to wait? Can working longer increase my benefits? What if I am out of work and need to take Social Security early? If I take benefits, what happens if I work? What risks do retirees face, and how does Social Security protect against those risks? How does waiting to take benefits increase protection for the surviving spouse? Why does Social Security grow more important at older ages? Should I consider spending down other resources before taking Social Security? Is there a risk in waiting? Will Social Security still be there? This brief does a nice job of answering those nagging questions.My SSA Account

Once you have read the brief — the two-page brief is available here and the full-brief here — make sure you create your my social security account and get actively involved in understanding the benefits you have earned!

And you SavvyReader, which question(s) have you asked with regards to drawing your Social Security benefits?

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. This is great info. Hopefully the benefits will be around when I get ready to retire. There are many questions that I need answered. When do I need to start drawing it? Would it be more beneficial for me to wait until I am 67 vice starting at 62? I think there are many factors that could come into play here. Did I save enough for retirement that it would allow me to wait a little longer? Am I in good enough health that I need to wait longer? This article has answered a few questions, but I have no doubt that there will be changes in the next 13 years. As always you have posted some great and beneficial information, SavvyJames. I love your blog.

    • I believe there are two key elements with regards to drawing your Social Security benefits. First, you have to understand the various options with respect to being married or single and the age you and/or your spouse are considering drawing benefits. Second, the Social Security benefits must be considered within the context of the overall retirement plan. As an example, my current plan has me and Mrs. SavvyJames waiting until age 65 to start drawing our benefits based on the dollar amount projected for that age and how that amount compliments income from other sources (e.g. Roth IRAs, brokerage accounts, defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, etc.).

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