Retirement: Factors on When to Collect Benefits

Sylvia Salguero, Financial Adviser

Old Person 7540153 1280

When it comes to collecting Social Security benefits, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy because everyone’s financial situation and retirement goals are different. However, here are some general strategies to consider:

  • Delay Taking Benefits: You can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but your benefit amount will be permanently reduced if you start before your full retirement age (usually between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year). If you can afford to wait, delaying benefits can increase your monthly payments significantly. For each year you delay beyond your full retirement age, your benefit increases by a certain percentage until you reach age 70.
  • Understand Spousal Benefits: Married individuals may be eligible for spousal benefits, which can allow them to claim benefits based on their spouse’s work record. This can be particularly advantageous if one spouse earned significantly more than the other during their working years. Spousal benefits can be up to 50% of the higher-earning spouse’s benefit amount.
  • Consider Survivor Benefits: If you’re married and one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive survivor benefits, which can be based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record. Maximizing these benefits often involves careful timing of when each spouse claims their own benefits.
  • Factor in Taxes: Depending on your total income, a portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal income tax. Understanding how your other sources of income will impact your Social Security benefits can help you minimize taxes in retirement.
  • Evaluate Your Health and Longevity: If you have reason to believe that you’ll have a longer-than-average lifespan, delaying Social Security benefits may be a wise choice, as it can result in higher lifetime benefits. Conversely, if you have health issues or a family history of shorter lifespans, starting benefits earlier may make more sense.
  • Work with a Financial Advisor: Social Security rules can be complex, and the optimal claiming strategy often depends on various personal factors. Consulting with a financial advisor who specializes in retirement planning can help you navigate the options and make informed decisions based on your individual circumstances.
  • Consider Part-Time Work: If you continue working while receiving Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age, there may be limits on how much you can earn before your benefits are reduced. However, once you reach full retirement age, you can work and earn as much as you want without any reduction in benefits.

Ultimately, the best strategy for collecting Social Security benefits will depend on your unique financial situation, goals, health, and other factors. It’s essential to educate yourself about your options and consider seeking professional advice to make the most informed decisions.

This information may not be relied on for the purpose of determining your Social Security benefits or eligibility or avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal professional. For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.

Sylvia Salguero

Financial Adviser

Sylvia Salguero joined Albitz/Miloe in 2001, guiding families, especially women and small businesses with the development of investment strategies, portfolio construction, as well as implementing solutions to help meet their goals and objectives. Sylvia has served on committees of various charitable and religious organizations.

More about Sylvia