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3 Reasons It Pays to Claim Social Security at 67

By Maurie Backman – Jul 23, 2020 at 6:07AM

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You get a choice as to when to start taking benefits, and here's why you may want to land on 67.

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a Social Security filing age. You can begin to take benefits starting at age 62, delay benefits until 70, or file somewhere in between. But the age you land on will impact the amount you're eligible to collect in retirement each month.

If you file for benefits at your exact full retirement age, or FRA, you'll get the precise monthly benefit you're entitled to based on your earnings history. File sooner, and you'll reduce your benefit -- generally for life. Or, you can delay benefits past FRA and grow them by 8% a year, up until age 70.

Many seniors rush to claim Social Security ahead of FRA so they can get their money as soon as possible, even if it means collecting a lower monthly benefit. But if you were born in 1960 or later, it pays to file for Social Security at 67. That age is your FRA, and here's why it's a good choice.

Older man sitting on a couch, reading a book

Image source: Getty Images.

1. You won't have to wait too long to claim benefits

Seniors who enter retirement without much in the way of savings are often advised to hold off on Social Security to boost their monthly income. But delaying benefits past FRA may not work for you. Doing so could cause you to miss out on certain goals (like traveling when you're relatively young and still in good health), whereas filing a few years earlier could make those goals possible.

It's for this reason that 67 is a pretty good compromise when it comes to claiming benefits. If you file then, your benefits won't be reduced at all, but you also won't have to wait as long as possible to enjoy them.

2. You'll be leaving your spouse a more robust survivor benefit

The amount of money you collect each month from Social Security won't just impact you; it will also affect your spouse. If you have a spouse who's a lot younger than you are, and who's therefore likely to outlive you by many years, claiming benefits at FRA makes sense. That way, you get to enjoy more years of collecting benefits than you would by waiting until 70 to file, but you'll also be setting your spouse up for a respectable survivor benefit.

Once you pass, your surviving spouse is entitled to a monthly benefit equal to 100% of the benefit you collected while you were alive. If you claim Social Security ahead of FRA and reduce your monthly benefit, you'll leave your spouse with a lower income stream.

3. You don't know how long you'll live

Social Security is technically designed to pay you the same lifetime (not monthly) benefit regardless of when you file. If you claim benefits early, you'll get less money each month, but more individual benefit payments. File late, and the opposite will happen: Your monthly benefit will grow, but you'll collect fewer payments in your lifetime.

You should largely break even if you live an average lifespan, which is why claiming benefits at your precise FRA could make a lot of sense. FRA is based on life expectancies, and so signing up when you're entitled to your full monthly benefit -- not sooner or later -- is a reasonable move for seniors who don't have health issues, but who also don't want to take the gamble of delaying benefits and possibly collecting less money in their lifetime because of it.

Should you claim Social Security at 67? If the above points resonate with you, that could be the best choice. Either way, make sure you understand the advantages and drawbacks of filing at different ages before you come to a final decision.

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