When it comes to filing for Social Security, you get your share of choices. If you wait until full retirement age (FRA) to sign up, which is either 66, 67, or somewhere in between, you'll get the full monthly benefit you're entitled to based on your wage history. If you delay your filing beyond FRA, you'll boost your monthly benefit -- for life.
But there's also the option to sign up for benefits before FRA. In fact, the earliest age you can claim benefits is 62, and it happens to be a very popular choice among seniors. Here's are a few good reasons to sign up for Social Security at 62 yourself.
1. You have to
You may not have plans to leave your job at age 62. But what if your company is forced to downsize its staff and you end up on the chopping block?
If you're laid off, you might struggle to find a replacement job (because let's face it -- companies aren't always so eager to hire older workers). And if that's the case, and you need money to pay your bills, then filing for Social Security immediately may be your only choice.
2. You want to
Some people end up approaching retirement with little to no money in a personal savings plan. But what if you end up in the opposite boat?
If you're sitting on a massive nest egg, then you may feel perfectly comfortable filing for Social Security at age 62, even if it means slashing your benefits in the process. After all, if your nest egg itself can support you and cover your essential bills, you may decide to take the money you receive in benefits and use it to travel or enjoy costlier hobbies while your health is in good enough shape to cooperate.
3. Your body is telling you to
Social Security is designed to pay you the same total amount of money in your lifetime regardless of when you first file for benefits. Think about it -- if you claim Social Security at age 62, you'll shrink your benefits but get more years of payments. If you hold off on filing, you'll get more money each month but fewer individual payments.
Things should break even if you live an average lifespan. But if your health is poor and you therefore suspect that you won't, then your best bet may be to claim Social Security as early as possible. Doing so could actually result in you getting more money from the program all in.
What's the right call?
There are plenty of scenarios where it pays to claim Social Security at FRA or beyond. If your health is great and you think you'll live longer than the average senior, then a later filing age will generally lead to a larger total lifetime benefit. And if you're entering retirement with virtually no money in your IRA or 401(k) plan, then you might need a more generous monthly benefit to compensate.
But still, there are plenty of situations where filing for benefits as early as possible makes sense. And if any of the above apply to you, you may want to consider claiming Social Security at age 62 on the nose.