There's a reason 62 is such a popular age at which to claim Social Security. It's the earliest age you're allowed to sign up.

The monthly Social Security benefits you're entitled to during retirement will hinge on your personal wage history. Once you reach full retirement age, or FRA, you're eligible to collect those benefits in full.

But FRA doesn't kick in until age 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on your year of birth. So if you file for Social Security at age 62, you'll wind up slashing your benefits by 25% to 30%, depending on your exact FRA.

A person at a laptop.

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You might think that it's worth taking that hit to get your hands on your benefits sooner. But unless you're coming into retirement with a giant nest egg, which many people aren't, claiming Social Security at 62 is a move you might end up sorely regretting.

When you can't afford to slash a major income stream

In an ideal world, you'd be coming into retirement with a large amount of money socked away in a 401(k) or IRA (or another savings plan). But many people aren't in that boat.

A recent Transamerica survey found that workers have a median of $67,000 saved for retirement. If that seems like a small amount of money, well, it is.

To give that figure some context, let's think about how much annual income it translates to. If we use the 4% rule, which financial experts have long recommended, a savings balance of $67,000 results in $2,680 a year in income.

That's not a whole lot. And if your savings balance is somewhere in the ballpark of $67,000 as retirement draws near, then you most probably can't afford to slash your Social Security benefits by 25% to 30%. That means you may need to hold off on signing up well past age 62.

Be realistic about the numbers

It's easy to see why filing for Social Security at age 62 is tempting. After all, when you have money available to you, it's natural to want to see it land in your bank account. Also, claiming Social Security at age 62 might allow you to retire early.

But if you're sitting on a mere $67,000 nest egg, or something in that vicinity, then you probably can't afford to retire early. Rather than file for Social Security at age 62 and make a huge mistake, push yourself to stay in the workforce, build up your savings, and grow your benefits. Doing so could be the difference between struggling financially throughout retirement and managing to eke out just enough money to maintain a decent standard of living.

While you're entitled to your Social Security benefits in full once FRA arrives, delaying your filing past that point will let you grow your benefits by 8% a year, up until age 70. That's an opportunity worth capitalizing on if your nest egg is pretty heavily lacking in funds and you have no desire to hold down a job in retirement to boost your senior income.