Q & A
Is it always the best idea to file when you’re 70-years-old?
Complete Question: I see a lot of advice out there about waiting until you’re 70 years old to file for Social Security benefits. Is there any reason NOT to do that?
Answer: You are right in that a lot of advice now tells people to wait until they are 70 to file. Previously, and still sometimes now, the common advice was to file at the age of 62 just because they are eligible; therefore, people may not be looking at their other options or may not realize the reductions in their benefit amounts by filing at the age of 62. As people become more aware, they want to know how to maximize their monthly benefit amount. Waiting until age 70 to file increases your benefit rate because you earn delayed retirement credits – specifically 8% per year after full retirement age.
Even though your benefit amount will increase until the age of 70, this may not be the best plan for you personally. For example, you may not be able to afford to wait that long. Maybe you expected to retire at a later age and were forced into early retirement. Maybe you lost your pension. A lot of factors could cause someone to not have the financial stability to wait for the Social Security income to start coming into the household. Another potential issue is illness. If you do not have a life expectancy past 70 (or even 75) there may not be much point in waiting. You may prefer to just start your benefits right away or at any age earlier than 70. Just remember that whatever benefits you do take will affect your surviving spouse – if you take higher benefits, your surviving spouse will receive higher benefits.
Of course, due to these issues, many people choose “maximizing strategies” where a spouse can take benefits while the other spouse suspends benefits until a later age. This way the couple will have some benefits coming into the household, while the other person’s benefits will be earning delayed retirement credits.
So the short answer to your question is yes, there are reasons to NOT file at age 70. The recent advice you have seen is how to maximize your benefit. However, you still have to look at your personal financial situation and decide what is best for you. Also remember that you do not have to file at ages 62, 66, or 70 – you can file at any age in between. The longer you wait, the higher your benefit amount.