You can claim Social Security as early as 62. So, why would you wait an additional eight years and claim Social Security at 70? There's one big reason: You'll get more money.
When you wait to claim Social Security benefits until after your full retirement age, you earn delayed retirement credits. These credits boost the monthly benefit you'll get for the rest of your life.
Social Security benefits are an ideal source of income in retirement because they don't run out, and you get raises when the cost of living rises (albeit raises that aren't big enough). That's why Stanford experts recommend waiting until age 70 to claim your benefits. However, just because the experts advise delay doesn't mean waiting is right for everyone. If you aren't sure if you should wait, read on to get some key advice about whether to claim Social Security at 70.
You should claim Social Security benefits at 70 if...
It's smart to wait and claim Social Security benefits at 70 when:
- You're a pretty healthy person: The argument for delaying benefits is that you'll receive a higher monthly benefit later in life. The problem is, you miss years of income when you wait -- and you need to make up that lost money. Typically, it takes more than a decade of receiving a higher monthly benefit to break even for years of foregone benefits, although you should do the math to find your own number. If it takes 11 years, you'd lose out if you claimed benefits at 70 and died before age 81. It's hard to predict when you'll pass on, but if you're already suffering from serious health problems, or longevity doesn't run in your family, you may be better off claiming early. On the other hand, if you're running marathons, and mom and dad are still hanging around at 102, waiting is probably a smart move.
- You have a spouse you want to provide for: If you boost your benefits by waiting to claim them, this increases the survivor's benefits your spouse gets after you pass on. If you're the higher-earning spouse, think seriously about waiting to claim until 70 to maximize the income your husband or wife is left with after you're gone.
- You can survive without Social Security until 70: While there are plenty of good reasons to wait to claim benefits, those only matter if you can wait. Many people claim benefits before 70 because their health prevents them from working, or they can't find a job and don't have enough money to live on. Try to avoid getting into a position where you're forced to claim benefits by saving enough to support yourself even if you leave the workforce before 70. When you have a financial cushion, you can make the choice about whether to wait, rather than being forced by circumstances to claim benefits before you're ready.
You should claim Social Security benefits earlier if...
On the other hand, waiting until 70 to claim benefits doesn't make sense if:
- You don't expect to live a long time: When you don't live long enough for your higher Social Security benefit to make up for years of missing out on money, it doesn't make sense to delay.
- You've coordinated with your spouse: Sometimes, it makes sense for one spouse to claim benefits early. If you're the lower-earning spouse, you could claim your benefits at 62 to enable your higher-earning spouse to wait longer. By taking this approach, you maximize survivor's benefits while still having money to live on in your 60s.
- You need the money: If you're struggling to stay afloat, you may not be able to wait until 70 to start receiving income from Social Security.
Is claiming Social Security at 70 smart?
There's a strong argument to be made that waiting to claim Social Security until 70 is the right move due to the increase in benefits from delaying your claim. However, as you can see, claiming at 70 isn't the right choice for every situation. Think about what's best based on your health, family situation, and finances so you can claim Social Security at the age that makes sense for you.