Wondering if you should start taking social security at age 62? It's only natural to ask this question. After all, age 62 is the earliest age you can begin drawing on social security benefits, and like many people, you are probably inclined to start drawing benefits as soon as you can.
However, you will take a reduced benefit if you take social security at age 62. That reduction will not only affect you, if you are married, it may also affect your spouse. So, unless you meet a few clear cut criteria, you'll want to give the idea of taking social security at age 62 quite a bit of thought before you apply for benefits.
Below are a few general guidelines you can use to determine if it makes sense for you to start taking social security benefits at age 62.
Reasons Not To Take Social Security At Age 62
- You plan on working and will earn in excess of the annual earnings limit before you reach full retirement age. (Social security benefits are reduced if you are collecting benefits before full retirement age and earn more than the annual earnings limit.)
- You are single, have little savings, and have a longer life expectancy. In this situation you should consider working as long as possible to maximize your benefits.
- Your spouse is still working and has earned income which may cause a larger portion of your social security benefits to be taxed. If your income, and tax rate, will be lower in a few years, by waiting to collect social security you can draw a larger benefit and keep more of it.
- You have a long life expectancy. In general, the longer your life expectancy, the longer you should wait to begin drawing on social security.
- You are married, and your spouse's benefit is smaller than yours, and/or your spouse is much younger than you. When married, your combined life expectancy will be longer than either of your single life expectancies. Upon your death, your spouse will continue to receive the larger of your social security benefit, or their own, but not both. This means if you take social security at age 62, and your spouse's benefit is based upon your benefit, it will mean a significantly reduced benefit for your surviving spouse's lifetime.
- You may also want to check out:
- When to Take Social Security for Singles
- When to Take Social Security for Marrieds
Reasons To Take Social Security At Age 62
- You will not have earned income in excess of the annual earnings limit between age 62 and full retirement age.
- You have health issues and/or a shorter than average life expectancy, and, if married, your spouse's benefit is larger than your own.
- You are more comfortable having the money in hand, rather than waiting an extra three to five years, even if it means a reduced benefit, and fewer dollars paid out over your lifetime.
- So Now What?
- Before making a decision, be sure to walk through the example in When To Take Social Security.
- You'll also want to check out the Step by Step Guide on How to Calculate Your Social Security Benefits.
Dana Anspach, CFP®, is one of only a handful of people to hold the Retirement Management Analyst designation. She has been About.com's MoneyOver55 Expert since 2008 and is the founder of Sensible Money, LLC. You can learn more about Dana's work in her bio.