What Social Security Options Should I Be Taking?

By Jeremy Frazie, AIF®, PPC®

Wouldn’t it be nice if making decisions about Social Security were simple and easy? We think so.

But unfortunately, Social Security decisions are almost never easy. The decisions you make about Social Security depend on a number of factors unique to your situation, so the options your brother takes are not necessarily the best options for you.

Nevertheless, it is helpful to consider some basic scenarios that many people face when thinking about Social Security options. Below, we describe three of these considerations:

  • When to start taking benefits

  • Spousal strategies

  • Determining what kind of benefits you are eligible for

When Should I Take Social Security?

One of the most fundamental questions to answer is the age you will begin taking benefits. The SSA will pay your full Social Security benefit at your full retirement age. Your full retirement age varies based on the year you were born, but falls somewhere between 66 and 67 for those in the baby boomer generation. (1)

The good news is, you do not have to wait until your full retirement age to begin taking Social Security benefits. In fact, you can begin taking benefits as early as age 62, but the monthly amount will be reduced to account for the extra number of years you receive benefits. You can also delay your benefits until you reach age 70, in which the monthly amount would increase each year you delay. So which is right for you?

In simple terms, here are 3 scenarios you might find yourself deciding between:

  • If you are able to work and truly enjoy working, work until age 70 to maximize your benefits.

  • If your health is failing or you are unable to work, retire at age 62 but receive lower benefits.

  • If you have some years left in you but you do not want to work forever, try to make it to age 66 to rec