Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3 Numbers That Could Change Your Mind About Claiming Social Security Early

By Maurie Backman - Jun 10, 2021 at 7:36AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Thinking of filing for benefits on the early side? These numbers could sway you to wait.

The convenient thing about Social Security is that you get a range of ages during which you can sign up. You can first file for benefits once you turn 62, or you can wait until full retirement age to sign up and avoid a hit to your benefits.

Full retirement age is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. If you were born earlier, that age may be 66, or 66 and a specific number of months.

There's also the option to delay your benefits past full retirement age and boost them by 8% a year in the process. But that's not an option most seniors exercise.

Loose stack of Social Security cards

Image source: Getty Images.

In fact, the most popular age to claim Social Security is still 62, though the number of seniors signing up at that age has declined. But before you make the decision to file for benefits early, check out these telling numbers.

$1,543

The average monthly Social Security benefit today amounts to $1,543. In conjunction with generous retirement plan withdrawals, that's not bad.

But many seniors don't have much savings and are heavily reliant on Social Security to pay the bills. If you're short in the savings department, then it could pay to wait to file for benefits. Otherwise, you'll take an already modest payday and shrink it further.

$300,000

Healthcare is the one expense that tends to go up during retirement, and it can be brutal. In fact, the average 65-year-old male-female couple retiring this year can expect to spend $300,000 on medical expenses throughout retirement, according to Fidelity.

Before you slash your Social Security benefits by filing early, think about how you'll swing your medical bills if your costs wind up falling in line with this estimate. You may realize you need a higher benefit to keep up with your healthcare needs.

$130,000

The average IRA balance recently climbed to $130,000, according to Fidelity. However, one thing we don't know is the age of the average saver.

In other words, a retirement savings balance of $130,000 is excellent for a person in his or her 30s or even 40s. But for someone within a few years of retirement, it's not as strong.

If you enter retirement with $130,000 in savings and take a 4% withdrawal every year (a percentage financial experts often recommend), that'll give you $5,200 of annual income. That's clearly not a ton of money. And if you file for Social Security early, you'll be left with an even lower benefit to supplement your retirement plan withdrawals.

Choose your filing age wisely

For some people, filing for Social Security early makes sense. If you're forced out of a job prematurely, for example, then claiming benefits early could be your ticket to survival. And if you enter retirement with a ton of money in savings, then in reality, it probably doesn't matter when you claim Social Security, and so if you want that money on the early side, so be it.

But before you make that decision, dig into these numbers so you understand the implications of filing for Social Security before reaching full retirement age. You may find that waiting is a much better call.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
400%
 
S&P 500 Returns
128%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/14/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.