When it comes to retirement, few questions are as hotly debated as how long one should wait before applying for Social Security benefits.

The typical advice is to wait as long as possible. This follows from the fact that the size of your monthly benefits is related in part to the age at which you apply for them.

If you apply at age 62, then your monthly check will be 25% smaller than if you wait until full retirement at 66. But if you hold out until turning 70, then your check will be 32% larger than at 66.

Yet, it can't be denied that there are clear benefits associated with applying for benefits early. Among other things, and this is of course obvious, you'll begin receiving checks sooner than if you wait, which, in turn, could facilitate an earlier retirement.

So, what's the right answer? As I discuss in the presentation below, that depends less on an impersonal analysis of the numbers, and more on when you want or need to take them.

Is Taking Social Security Benefits at 62 a Bad Idea? from OneMarlandRoad.