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Social Security: 3 Simple Charts That Will Help You Decide When to Take Benefits

Deciding when to take Social Security benefits is one of the most important financial decisions you'll ever make. Among other things, you should consider when you'll need the cash, how long you're likely to live, and at what age you want to leave the workforce to (at least hopefully) pursue a life of relative leisure.

So how should you make the final decision of when to apply? Suffice it to say there's a multitude of research and commentary available on the Internet to guide this process.

But as Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses in the video below, the only person who's ultimately qualified to make the decision is you. With this in mind, John shares three simple charts that can assist you.

The first shows the impact of timing on the size of your monthly benefits. The second shows the cumulative surplus and later deficit associated with taking benefits at age 62 as opposed to 66. And the third shows the probability you'll live to various ages, assuming that you're 62 years old.

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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 5:49 PM, Carioca58 wrote:

    John,

    The title of the second chart is not very clear. If I understand correctly, retiring at 66 is better than retiring at 62 if you live until past 77. But if you die earlier than 77, retiring at 62 would be better, correct?

    Thanks!

    Carioca

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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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