Should You Receive Social Security Benefits Early?

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Receiving your social security benefits at an earlier age will not reduce the overall amount of your benefit over time. Because you will be taking it at a younger age, your monthly payment will be smaller than if you had waited (up to 30% less than if you waited to full retirement age), but the aggregate payout over time could be the same amount. For some people, that lower monthly benefit amount is worth it.

Taking Early Social Security to Reduce Anxiety

If the potential for program insolvency is causing you additional anxiety, then it may make sense to start taking benefits earlier rather than waiting until your full retirement age. Lack of quality sleep and over anxiousness in waking hours thinking about when to take your benefit can lead to health problems. As a member of Gen X, I certainly hope the system will still be around once I reach age 70, but I know there are no guarantees.

Taking Social Security Early When Life Expectancy Changes

Another reason to take your social security benefit early is if you believe your life expectancy has changed. While the longevity rate has a history of increasing the more you age, it does not prevent the unfortunate diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. If your health has declined and you may not live out your statistical life expectancy, then it may be proper to claim your benefit early. Claiming your benefit earlier can give you comfort financially, physically, and mentally.

Considerations for Married Persons

If you are a legally married person, you can make a rational case to start taking social security benefits at the earliest possible time if your spouse has been the significant wage income earner. If that person with the lower amount of benefit is also the person who will statistically outlive the other, then sharing in that income source early can help with expenses.In heterosexual couples, statistically in the past, this has been a wife. Also statistically, the wife will outlive the husband. This means the spouses can share the wife’s early benefit as an income source then she can switch to a death benefit after her husband passes away. Of course, this is only statistically, and no one can guarantee these areas.

As for benefits for married persons, there are three types of benefits in the married spouse category: spousal, survivor, and divorced spouse. Each status has different qualification rules, and it can be complicated to decipher the best benefit available to you. It is crucial to check Social Security Administration benefits for spouses as well as a trusted legal advisor to outline your best course of action.

Deciding when to take your social security benefits involves numerous factors. A balance has to be struck between the cost of living adjustments (COLA), current expenditures and expected longevity. To see how the numbers work out use the Social Security table or Social Security detailed calculator to understand how your monthly benefit payout amount differentiates depending on when you claim your benefits.

As you're contemplating retirement and Social Security benefits, so too should you make sure your estate plan is up to date. If I can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You may contact McCreary Law Office or call the Jacksonville, FL office at 904-425-9046 or the Houston, TX office at 713-568-8600.

Categories: Senior Issues

Attorney Jana McCreary

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Houston Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Jana R. McCreary has been an attorney for over eighteen years, a career move she made after working for over a decade with adults and children with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. Graduatin… Read More

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