Maximize Your Social Security Benefits with the Right Retirement Age



Deciding when to start taking Social Security benefits is one of the most important financial decisions you'll make in retirement.

The age you begin benefits dramatically impacts how much you'll receive each month. With the full retirement age rising and maximum benefits at 70, choosing the optimal time to file is key to getting the most out of Social Security.

The earliest you can claim benefits is age 62, but doing so permanently reduces them by up to 30% compared to waiting. Although alluring for the immediate income, the reduction can cost you over your lifetime.

Waiting until full retirement age (67 for those born in 1960 or later) entitles you to 100% of the benefit you've earned. But delaying even longer increases your payment by up to 32% at age 70 in 2024.
 

Monthly Payment Amounts Vary Greatly by Age

In 2024, the maximum benefit at age 62 is $2,364, while it's $3,877 at full retirement age and $4,873 at age 70. That's over double the earliest amount. Even for the average benefit of around $1,600, the difference between 62 and 70 is still $640 per month, or over $7,600 per year.

The larger checks from delaying benefits compound over your retirement. By optimizing your claiming age, you can get tens of thousands more over your lifetime. It's crucial to factor in your health and family longevity as well when deciding.
 

Earnings Limits Ease Once You Hit Full Retirement Age

If you claim benefits before full retirement age but keep working, your benefits will be temporarily reduced by $1 for every $2 earned over $21,240 in 2023 [3]. This disappears once you hit full retirement age. At 70, you can earn any amount without reducing benefits.
 

Conclusion

Choosing when to take Social Security is a big decision. While tempting to take at 62, your monthly income could be up to 80% higher at 70. Factor in your health, expenses, other income sources, and family history when choosing your start date. With the right claiming age, you can maximize this invaluable retirement income source.






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