When it comes to your retirement, one of the biggest decisions you'll make is what age you begin claiming Social Security benefits.
The earliest you can begin claiming is age 62, but you can also claim at any age after that. The advantage of delaying benefits is that you'll receive more each month the longer you wait. By waiting until age 70 to file, you could earn up to 32% more in addition to your full benefit amount.
However, while you'll receive smaller checks by claiming earlier in life, there's one important reason to consider claiming at age 62.
Making the most of your time
Claiming benefits at age 70 may seem like the logical choice. You could potentially earn hundreds of dollars more per month in benefits, and you may be able to enjoy a more financially secure retirement.
That said, by waiting to claim benefits, you're giving up one of your most valuable resources: Time.
By claiming benefits at 62, you will receive smaller checks than if you'd delayed filing. But you'll also have more time to enjoy your retirement when you're still relatively young and healthy. If you have big plans to travel, learn new hobbies, or simply keep up with the grandkids in retirement, claiming Social Security earlier in life can give you more time to enjoy these activities.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to retire and claim benefits at the same time, and it is possible to retire early and wait to claim benefits. However, unless you have a substantial nest egg, it can be tough to pay the bills in retirement without help from Social Security.
One perk of claiming benefits early is that if you change your mind, it is possible to undo your decision. You have 12 months from the time you claim to withdraw your application. You will need to repay all the benefits you've already received, but if you successfully reverse your decision, you can claim at a later date and earn larger checks.
On the other hand, if you delay benefits and later regret your decision, you can't go back in time and claim earlier. And nobody wants to spend their senior years wishing they had more time to enjoy retirement.
Also, even if you're in peak physical condition and expect to live a long and healthy life, you never know when life will throw a curveball at you. If you wait until age 70 to claim benefits and then develop health issues at age 75, you may regret waiting so long to file for Social Security.
What age should you claim?
There are advantages and disadvantages to claiming benefits at any age. If your retirement savings are lacking and you want to earn as much as possible from Social Security, delaying benefits could be a smart move. You could boost your benefit amount by hundreds of dollars per month, which can help you afford a more comfortable retirement.
If your primary focus is spending as much time as possible in retirement, claiming early may be the way to go. You'll receive less money each month, but that may be a worthwhile sacrifice to spend more years enjoying the activities you love.
The age you claim benefits will depend largely on your personal preferences. Think about your priorities, and then consider which age best aligns with those priorities. Claiming early will require financial sacrifice, but it may be the best retirement decision you'll ever make.