Social Security Benefits: The Huge Advantages of Waiting Until Full Retirement Age

Social Security is an essential program for many retirees, and many people end up taking their benefits as early as age 62. But waiting until full retirement age, which is currently 66 for people reaching it this year, can be a smart move.

In this installment of our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Skip, who asks whether one can take full Social Security benefits after reaching full retirement age and whether he can draw his full Social Security while also continuing to work and earn income without forfeiting benefits. Dan goes through the advantages of waiting until full retirement age to claim Social Security, including suffering no reduction in monthly benefits, having the ability to use sophisticated strategies like the file-and-suspend strategy, and the fact that no reduction in benefits occurs even for those who work. Dan concludes that once you reach full retirement age, you can claim full benefits without fear of reduction.

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Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!

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  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 3:26 PM, craigkay wrote:

    When to take social security benefits is a decision that has many many facets. However, one thing that does not change: your date of death. In making your decision on whether to take benefits early or late, remember that the reason why your monthly benefit is higher (say at age 66) is that you have less time to live. An extreme example (not possible but illustrative) is waiting to take your social security benefit at age 100. Yes, your monthly benefit will be $12,000, but you have less months in your life in which to receive that benefit, i.e., much less time to live. The total benefit does not change.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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