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Social Security: The Not-So-Obvious Reason to Wait Until 70

Deciding when to take Social Security benefits involves making a guess about how long you'll live. But you have to be smart about how you make that guess, and one common mistake can lead you to guess wrong in assessing your true life expectancy in retirement.

In this installment of our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from a Fool reader who asks what the correct life-expectancy figures are for making a smart decision about taking Social Security benefits.

Dan notes that life expectancies for newborns are in their late 70s, leading some to conclude that waiting until age 70 to take benefits is a big mistake. But Dan notes that you have to look at life expectancies for those who are already 62, which are longer. Dan points to figures from the Social Security Administration putting the current life expectancy for those at early retirement age at around 82 years for men and almost 85 years for women. Dan concludes that for many, the not-so-obvious but essential change in determining life expectancy should lead you to reconsider waiting longer before taking benefits, especially when you consider survivors' benefits.

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

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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 May 30, 2014, at 6:49 PM, bsteaves wrote:

    When is Social Security going to fix their web site?

    Currently it only works if you are inside the USA. Why not make it available to all Americans so we can see our benefits and design a strategy.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 7:14 PM, janetanderson wrote:

    WHY on earth would you wait till SEVENTY to free yourself from an employer????? Instead, save, save, save NOW so you can do what you always wanted to do: travel, read, write, volunteer, walk, run, think, meditate, paint, start your own business, go on a picnic, act, laugh, ride a bike, start a blog, dream, sew, create, have philosophical discussions with neighbors, and a million other things. Working till 70 is only for those who don't care about LIVING!

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 8:23 PM, Jnlaf wrote:

    Well the best I can tell is that Motley Fool get good pay from the U.S. government... They are ALWAYs tell you to wait,,,you should wait,,, It's best to wait...Sorry but No it isn't ...get you SS as so as you can...don't wait...remember..take the money and run...enjoy life,you could be dead at 66..

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 8:33 PM, bkmobal wrote:

    Let's see there is 2.6 trillion of IOU's backing up the Social Security System so there is plenty of money in the pot. Right now they are taking money out of current workers pay to pay for social security retirees so current payments are coming out of the general fund taken in this year to pay for previous years not future years. If it was not for it being a government program I would call it a ponzi scheme. Anyway with all that money sitting there I wonder why President OBAMA said the following about not raising the debt limit back when it needed to be raised:

    "Here’s how President Barack Obama answered CBS’s Scott Pelley’s question about whether he could guarantee that Social Security checks would go out on August 3, the day after the government is supposed to reach its debt limit: “I cannot guarantee that those checks [he included veterans and the disabled, in addition to Social Security] go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”

    It will not be to far out in the future that Social Security will have to be cut by 25 percent or means tested as the money dries up to pay it.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:47 PM, AllenElliott wrote:

    Propaganda so government won't run out of monew in their supposed black box. actually they have been stealing this money and using it as part of their general funds

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:50 PM, AllenElliott wrote:

    They have enough money in IOUs to keep social security funded for another 50 years.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 11:19 PM, alanh123456 wrote:

    Do the math. 0.62% of Americans live until age 90, that's less than 1%. Carpe Diem retire ASAP!

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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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