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The Biggest Social Security Question of Them All

If you're approaching retirement, then you've no doubt considered when to start collecting Social Security benefits. The answer to this question, it turns out, isn't as easy as it may at first seem.

The complication stems from the fact that your monthly benefits are, in significant part, a function of when you choose to retire.

There are three ages to keep in mind. The first is your early retirement age. This is the age at which you become eligible to receive benefits. The second is your full retirement age, which is the age at which you're qualified to receive full benefits. And the last is your delayed retirement age, which applies a credit to your monthly payments in exchange for your choice to defer them.

So, when should you pull the trigger? As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses in the following video, the answer to this question boils down to some simple math.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2014, at 11:43 AM, AntoinetteLPembe wrote:

    John, This may not be the right forum to ask the following question, but hopefully you can help me get it to the appropriate source if it is not you!

    Hope you can help on this question....63 year old sister who is a widow applied for social security survivor benefit on her husbands social security so that she could let her SS grow until age 70; was told this would not affect her independent 23 year old disabled son's SS (who is in an income based group home). She just received her first SS check only to discover that her son's SS benefit was greatly reduced, and she was told this was because of a family maximum benefit. She is now trying to figure out what to do, as the amount her son received is insufficient to meet his "rent" to stay in the home. Are there any strategies you can suggest for her? (She would prefer that he get the larger of the benefit, even if her portion is reduced, if this is possible) Thanks for any help you can suggest!

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John Maxfield
JohnMaxfield37

John has been writing for The Motley Fool since 2011. As a senior banking analyst, he covers the financial industry and the nation's largest banks in particular. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Lewis and Clark College and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University. He's a licensed attorney in the state of Oregon, and resides in Portland with his wife and twin sons. View John Maxfield's profile on LinkedIn

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