Do I get more money if I claim my Social Security retirement benefits as soon as possible?

Answer: You get less each month, if you claim your Social Security retirement benefits early.

Whether you will get more or less over your whole lifetime if you claim earlier or later depends largely on your lifespan. Claiming Social Security at age 70 means you get fewer checks, but the size of each monthly check is larger. On the other hand, claiming Social Security earlier means that you get more checks, but the size of each check is smaller.

Because of the increased size of your monthly check if you claim after age 62, there is a point at which you break even. For example, if you live to about age 78, you get the same total amount in benefits regardless of whether you claimed at age 62 or at your full retirement age. You break even before age 78 if you claim at age 63 and after if you claim at age 70.

There is a good chance that you may live beyond age 78. In fact, on average, a woman reaching age 65 today will live to age 86.6, and a man will live to age 84.3. If you do live beyond this age and claim at your full retirement age, you get a larger monthly check and a larger total amount over your lifetime compared to claiming at 62.

Here’s why it could be important for you to have the highest possible Social Security monthly benefit as you age:

  • Social Security usually has an annual cost of living adjustment that ensures that the value of your Social Security benefit keep pace with inflation for as long as you live.

 

  •  You could spend 20 years or more in retirement, as many people do now. Because Social Security pays a monthly benefit for as long as you live, getting a higher benefit can help you secure your financial situation in your later years as other sources of income and savings are depleted.

 

  • Unlike a 401(k) or an IRA, Social Security benefits are paid each month, which means you don’t have to worry about investing or keeping track of the stock market.
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