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9 Good Reasons for Claiming Social Security Early

There’s been quite a bit of talk over the last few years about the fact that most people should wait to claim Social Security, if they can afford to do so. And that’s true, for two reasons:

  1. Waiting to claim Social Security reduces risk, because it is a decision that works out best in the most financially scary scenarios (in which you live a very long time and therefore have to fund a very long retirement).
  2. Waiting to claim Social Security maximizes spendable dollars, in most cases. (That is, with inflation-adjusted interest rates as low as they are right now, for more than half of people, delaying Social Security will result in having a greater number of inflation-adjusted dollars to spend over the course of their lifetimes.)

But it’s important to understand that, while it makes sense in the majority (i.e., greater than 50%) of cases to delay, there are still many situations in which a person would be well served by claiming Social Security earlier rather than later.

The first and most obvious reason to claim Social Security early is simply that you need the income immediately.

But, beyond that, there are still several cases in which, if you do not need the risk reduction that comes from delaying Social Security, your spendable dollars are likely to be maximized by claiming benefits earlier rather than later.

What follows are eight examples of such cases. (To be clear, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. These are simply some of the more common such situations.)

1. You are single (and have never been married) and you have a significantly shorter than average life expectancy due to a medical condition.

2. You are the spouse with the lower primary insurance amount in a married couple and you or your spouse have a shorter than average life expectancy.

3. You are the low-PIA spouse in a married couple, and you’re many years younger than your spouse (meaning that, when you are age 62, your first-to-die life expectancy is significantly shorter than the first-to-die life expectancy of a couple in which both spouses are age 62).

4. You are the low-PIA spouse in a married couple, you are younger than your spouse, and you are filing early in order to allow your spouse (i.e., the higher-PIA spouse) to claim spousal benefits while he/she allows his/her own retirement benefit to continue growing until 70.

5. You are a widow/widower, and you’re claiming retirement benefits as early as possible while allowing your widow/widower benefit to continue growing until your full retirement age. Or, you’re claiming widow/widower benefits as early as possible while allowing your retirement benefit to continue growing until age 70.

6. You have one or more children who would qualify for child’s benefits once you file for your retirement benefit (thereby making the cost of waiting significantly greater than it is for most people).

7. Inflation-adjusted interest rates are high (unlike they are right now), making the option of taking the money and investing it a better deal. (Interest rates would have to be super high, however, for this to be a good deal for the high-PIA spouse in a married couple.)

8. You will qualify for a sizable government pension from work that was not covered by Social Security, and you’re claiming Social Security spousal benefits early while delaying your pension (so that the pension grows and so that you can put off applicability of the government pension offset).

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Social Security cover Social Security Made Simple: Social Security Retirement Benefits and Related Planning Topics Explained in 100 Pages or Less
Topics Covered in the Book:
  • How retirement benefits, spousal benefits, and widow(er) benefits are calculated,
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