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Pros and Cons of Waiting Until 70 to Claim Social Security

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Most Americans have about an eight-year window to claim Social Security Benefits, with eligibility beginning at age 62 and lasting until 70. But there are financial pros and cons that need to be weighed before you start collecting your checks. That’s because the federal government offers certain incentives to those who wait, while temporarily penalizing those who claim early.

If you choose to claim Social Security benefits at 62, your monthly payments will be reduced until you reach your full retirement age (FRA) — which is dependent on the year you were born. Choosing to delay benefits until after your FRA allows you to maximize your benefits, adding 8% to your monthly checks for each year you delay. But this incentive alone shouldn’t negate the potential risks you face the longer you wait. Waiting until 70 to claim Social Security carries some financial consequences for both you and your family that you’ll want to consider when you’re making your choice.

Claiming at 70 could limit your overall income

Waiting until 70 to claim benefits allows you to maximize your monthly payments, but there’s a chance you may not live long enough to see it. As you age, you run a higher risk of developing a serious health condition.

According to the National Institute on Aging, those 65 and older are much more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke and develop heart disease and heart failure than those who are younger. If you fall ill and pass before you hit 70, you’ll miss out on collecting benefits altogether. Obviously, no one can predict the future, but if certain health conditions have a history in your family, you might want to factor that into your decision.

Claiming at 70 could reduce your spouse’s benefits

You might think Social Security benefits are specific to you, but they’re not if you’re married. The Social Security Administration allows spouses to claim benefits based on their husband’s or wife’s earnings as long as two conditions are met: The individual must be at least 62, and the individual’s spouse must already be claiming benefits.

But here’s where things can get tricky. Spousal benefits max out at FRA. So, if you wait until 70 to claim and your spouse has reached FRA, they could be collecting less than they would’ve been if you were the higher earner and had claimed benefits earlier. If you’re married, you’ll want to coordinate with your spouse to make sure you’re making the best decision for your situation.

You’re still required to enroll and pay for Medicare at 65

In addition to Social Security, Medicare is another federal insurance program put in place to help seniors and retirees. You can enroll in Medicare once you turn 65. Those who are already claiming benefits by this time will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. But if you haven’t claimed your benefits by 65, you’ll have to enroll in the program yourself.

Without going too deep into the weeds, it’s important that you understand there are multiple parts to Medicare, and you’re responsible for paying for some of it out of pocket. Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B. Part A, known as hospital insurance, covers things like in-patient care and hospice. Part B, known as medical insurance, covers outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive care and must be paid for out of pocket. In 2024, the standard monthly premium amount for Part B is $174.70. That cost can add up over time, hurting your overall budget if you haven’t planned for it.

The choice is ultimately yours

Unfortunately, there’s no right answer when it comes to the best age to claim Social Security benefits. It’s a decision that needs to be made based on your situation and financial needs. For some, waiting to claim is best, but for others, waiting to claim could be detrimental to their financial well-being.

As you make your decision, be sure to weigh out all your options and consult with loved ones. A financial professional can also help you determine the best option for you based on your unique situation.

Patrick Simasko is an investment advisory representative of and provides advisory services through CoreCap Advisors, LLC. Simasko Law is a separate entity and not affiliated with CoreCap Advisors. The information provided here is not tax, investment or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.



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