Factors to Consider When Claiming Social Security
My personal factors to consider when claiming social security are different from yours. We both have factors peculiar to us. That makes sense and is intuitively obvious.
However out of the number of reasons on the menu there are several that are common to each of us. That’s only natural. The need for money for example is a common factor. Some of us may need it now while some of us can wait until we turn 70.
This article isn’t meant to be the end all be all for when claiming social security is right for you. The intent is to get your thinking process stirred up enough so you can make a plan that fits your situation.
It is obvious only you and your spouse, if you have one, know your situation better than anyone else. So it follows putting both heads together will probably yield the result you want or, at the least, is best under your particular circumstances.
One quick caveat would be is if you’re on Social Security Disability. In that case, you would automatically just rollover into regular Social Security upon turning 65. Not really any choice you can make.
Use the following questions as a starting point. Add to them if needed. Don’t be squeamish in your endeavor. It is your money you are considering.
Use These Questions to Help Figure it Out
If there are two of you one will probably outlive the other. Another commonality between us. Most people don’t like to even talk about that being the case. Mother Nature doesn’t talk about it either. She just makes it happen and leaves you to deal with it. So deal with it now.
Please don’t take anything I’ve said so far as a lecture. That isn’t my intent. I know I had to deal with it and I am tickled pink my wife and I sat down together and discussed our situation. In our case two heads were better than one. I was lucky and I want you to be, if not lucky, than informed.
These questions are general in nature. But, and this is a big but, they splash right into areas for which you you need to have serious answers. Here we go and, by the way, be honest to yourself when you answer the questions.
My initial thought on when to claim social security was:
Do You Need the Money Immediately?
To me, this is the most important reason to begin drawing SS at age 62. Nothing else really matters, right?
Like I said above it is your money. Spin this question as many ways as possible. If you come up with the same answer each time you have the right answer for you.
The second factor according to me is:
Are You in Good Health?
If you are in good health, the more advantageous it is to delay taking benefits. Advantageous means your monthly checks are higher. Claiming at age 70 gives you the highest payout.
Simply because 70 gives you the highest payout is not a reason unto itself to wait. I personally was in what I thought was great health. That changed when I had open heart surgery. Believe me when I say open heart surgery played a role in my decision.
The third factor to consider when claiming social security is:
Your Family History
Do you have a family history of people with unusually long lifespans or short lifespans? Short lifespans doesn’t necessarily mean you will die young but it is an indicator. Hence taking your monthly check beginning at age 62 might be the wise choice.
My wife’s family lives into their 80’s. My family lived to their 60’s. I’m in my 70’s. If I had relied only on family history I would have jumped on SS at 62. What’s your family history?
In this day and age taxes are a big factor, to me:
Tax Planning Reasons
is the fourth factor. Only you know your tax position and what would be the best answer for you.
Some people think their social security check is tax free. The real answer is a resounding maybe. The IRS in their empathy for the taxpayer has made SS almost tax free. The guiding light determining taxability is the amount of money coming into your house.
This article is not a financial planning nor tax planning article. You have a tax preparer who can answer those questions. Always consult with that person to learn the latest IRS rules.
Married individuals have additional considerations. The top 4 are a good starting point but survivorship, working spouses and age of spouse must also be considered.
Some Final Thoughts on Claiming Social Security
This isn’t the only article about considerations for taking social security. The Internet is full of them. However, the fact remains the first and best authority on when to take social security is you. Only you know your situation. That’s important.
I did not try to list all of the factors when claiming social security. If you have questions or want answers straight from the horse’s mouth schedule an appointment with a SS rep at your local SS office. In the alternative you can start the process by visiting https://ssa.gov. Their information is up to date.
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