Social Security Benefits: Is Waiting Just Plain Wrong?

The math says waiting will make many families richer, but some still think waiting is a loser's game. Who's right?

Dan Caplinger
Dan Caplinger
Apr 27, 2014 at 8:40AM
Investment Planning

Social Security gives you the choice of whether to take smaller benefits as early as age 62 or wait for larger benefits until as late as age 70. Even though countless analysts have shown that many people get more money in the long run by waiting longer before taking Social Security benefits, millions remain unconvinced and take them as early as they can.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the arguments for and against waiting to take Social Security benefits. Dan notes that even though you get a reduced benefit by taking Social Security early, you get the money at a time when it might have more value to you in terms of enriching your life. Moreover, with break-even dates in your late 70s or early 80s, many people simply don't believe the actuarial figures that suggest they could live a lot longer than they expect. Dan looks at data showing that 40% of retiree-age Social Security recipients are 75 or older, with one in eight 85 or older, and notes that the data doesn't include the impact that delaying Social Security can have on younger spouses and survivors. Dan concludes that you must take health issues and other personal information into account to make the best decision, with no hard-and-fast rule applying to every single individual.

Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!