Determining when to begin claiming Social Security is one of the biggest retirement decisions you'll make, as it will affect your monthly income for the rest of your life.

Many experts recommend waiting to file for benefits, as it will increase your payments -- sometimes by hundreds of dollars per month.

However, there is a strong case for claiming early, too. If you're planning on taking Social Security as early as possible at age 62, that could be a smart move. Here's why.

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The good news about claiming early

The sooner you begin taking Social Security, the smaller your monthly checks will be. If you have a full retirement age (FRA) of 67 years old, filing at 62 will result in a permanent 30% reduction in benefits.

In theory, though, you should collect the same amount over a lifetime regardless of when you file. By claiming early, you'll receive smaller payments each month, but more checks in total. If you delay benefits, you'll collect fewer checks over a lifetime, but each will be larger.

These calculations assume you'll live an average lifespan, however. If you have reason to believe you may not live well into your 80s or beyond, you could actually collect more in total over a lifetime by claiming early. 

Of course, we can't predict exactly how long we'll live -- and this isn't the most pleasant topic to think about, either. But by taking a realistic look at your health and potential lifespan, it will be easier to decide whether to collect Social Security now or wait.

Another great reason to file at 62

The other major advantage of claiming early is that you have the ability to undo your decision if you change your mind.

After you file for benefits, you have one chance to withdraw your application if you regret your choice. You have only 12 months from the time of filing to make this move, and will need to repay all the money you've already received in benefits. But then you're free to claim again at any point down the road.

If you've already missed the 12-month window or can't afford to repay your benefits, another option is to suspend Social Security. Once you reach your FRA, you can press pause on collecting benefits up to age 70. When you start receiving payments again, you'll earn larger checks each month.

It's still wise to do your research before claiming to ensure you're filing at the best age for your situation. But if circumstances change or you regret your decision, it's easier to change your mind if you claim early.

An important caveat to consider

Filing at age 62 has plenty of upsides, but it could potentially put your spouse at a disadvantage in some situations.

If you were to pass away before your spouse, they could collect your entire benefit amount in survivors benefits. Because claiming early results in smaller payments, your partner may be stuck with a lower benefit amount if they outlive you.

Now, this doesn't always mean you should delay benefits if you're married. Only the lower-earning spouse can qualify for survivors benefits, so if your partner is already collecting larger payments than you, it may not be worth it for you to delay Social Security solely for their benefit.

Even if you are the higher-earning spouse, sometimes it's still better to claim early despite potentially reducing your partner's future benefit amount. Delaying Social Security often means working longer, too, and you and your spouse may decide that the quality time you'll share by filing early is more important than the boost in benefits.

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding when to take Social Security. By considering the pros and cons of claiming early, it will be easier to determine whether it's the right move for you.