Social Security: Why So Many Regret Taking Early Benefits

Social Security is a key element of financial security in retirement, and there's plenty of temptation to take benefits as early as possible. But a recent survey found that many who take benefits early end up regretting their decision in the long run.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, the Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at a study from Nationwide, which looked at retirees and how they had made decisions about their Social Security benefits. As Dan notes, 38% of those who took benefits early said they regretted not having waited longer. The survey found that early benefit-takers got on average just $1,200 monthly, compared to $1,500 for those who took benefits at normal retirement age and more than $1,900 for those who waited even longer. Dan points out that health-care costs were an especially large problem for retirees, with almost 70% of benefits going just to cover out-of-pocket costs and with that number expected to rise over time. In addition, even for those with no health problems, many said that they couldn't do what they expected in retirement, and of those, 86% said that money was the key factor. Dan concludes that whichever way you eventually go, you have to think long-term in order to make a decision about Social Security that you won't regret.

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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 22, 2014, at 12:31 PM, fundertl1 wrote:

    the other 64% that took a reduced amount died and had no comment

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 8:57 PM, JohanStrauss wrote:

    I'm taking it early, because I have multiple plans lined up:

    Plan A: Moving east & living with a gal who has her own house, stocks, and a 401(k).

    Plan B: Packing up my camping gear and living on BLM land for free (yes, I know all about it), and chase UFOs.

    Plan C: Moving into my son's attic.

    Plan D: Finding (or building) a place of my own in a low population town (or, away from said low population town).

    Plan E: Dying and not giving a rat's @ss.

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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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