Social Security Administration building. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Taking early Social Security benefits is popular, and it's a tempting way to make it possible for you to retire earlier. But a recent government study that has caused some confusion among those nearing retirement shows a lot of concern about whether people are making the best possible choices with their Social Security benefits.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, takes a closer look at the recent study from the Government Accountability Office. Dan notes that there's been a lot of confusion about one of the study's claims, which makes it sound as though your expected lifetime benefits aren't ultimately affected by when you claim Social Security. But Dan puts that statement back into the context of the entire study, noting that the report immediately goes on to explain why it truly does matter when you claim benefits, going through a number of situations in which claiming early benefits can hurt your own finances and those of your fellow family members. Dan recommends that you take a look at a free copy of the GAO study and draw your own conclusions from what it has to say.