Deciding when to take Social Security benefits is a huge decision. But too many people make a simple mistake with the benefits: they assume that as soon as they retire, they have to take Social Security right away.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, talks about how most people connect their retirement date with when they'll take Social Security. Dan admits that for many people, the loss of income from work makes taking Social Security a necessity. But he notes that if you have other assets, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, or other retirement accounts, then spending them downbeforeyou take Social Security can be a smart move, as it allows your eventual monthly benefits to rise. With potential tax benefits from spreading out retirement-account distributions as well, Dan recommends taking a look at your situation to make the best decision for you.

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