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When Should I Take Social Security Benefits

Author: National Academy of Social Insurance

Published: 2010-01-23

Synopsis and Key Points:

Questions to consider as to when you should take social security benefits.

Main Digest

When to Take Social Security: Questions to Consider - New NASI Brief Examines One of the Most Important Financial Decisions in a Consumer's Lifetime.

Monthly benefits will be higher for the rest of your life and you can get as much as a 76% boost in monthly retirement benefits if you delay claiming Social Security benefits, according to a new National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) brief released today. "When to Take Social Security Benefits" asks (and answers) questions that people should consider while deciding when to claim Social Security benefits.

"When to stop working and when to take Social Security are two of the most important financial decisions that people make," said Virginia Reno, co-author of the brief and Vice President for Income Security and the National Academy of Social Insurance. "Conventional wisdom often favors taking Social Security at the earliest opportunity. Yet waiting to claim benefits can bring the greatest financial security to a retiree over the long-term."

The brief addresses the following questions:

Q: How much difference does it make to wait

A: Your benefit will be about 76 percent greater if you wait until age 70 to claim Social Security than if you had claimed benefits at age 62.

Q: What should I consider in deciding when to take Social Security

A: Consider that:

Social Security is one of the few sources of retirement income that is guaranteed to last for as long as you live;
Social Security is automatically adjusted to keep up with the cost of living; and
Social Security does not put individual recipients at risk of volatility in stock market returns.

Q: Is there a risk in waiting? Will Social Security still be there

A: There is no risk in waiting. Social Security's finances are much stronger than many people fear. Small changes will ensure that benefits will be paid on time for the next 75 years and beyond.

Social Security is the safest and most secure source of retirement income most people have and it grows more important at older ages. According to the brief, nearly six in ten elders get half or more of their income from Social Security. "An important principle in deciding when to take benefits is to avoid unnecessary financial hardship caused by reducing the secure income one has available in the final years of one's life," said Janice Gregory, President of the National Academy of Social Insurance. "Delaying receipt of Social Security benefits recognizes the value of Social Security as insurance against the common financial risks retirees face."

To download the brief, visit the NASI website at Financial support was provided by The Actuarial Foundation in Schaumburg, Illinois.

The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance. Its mission is to promote understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security and a vibrant economy.

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