If you're on the verge of retirement, it can be difficult to decide when to apply for Social Security benefits. Is it better to do so early and get a smaller check for longer? Or should you wait and get a larger check for fewer total months?

The answer to this question requires you to conduct a "breakeven analysis," which compares how much you'll gain by getting more checks sooner versus how much you're giving up later by forgoing a higher payout. If the former number is greater than the latter one, then you should go with it. And vice versa.

But is there an easier way to come up with an answer than going through this process? In other words, is there a shortcut or some type of readily accessible benchmark that can take the place of otherwise complicated calculations? As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses in the following video, it turns out that there is.

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