Deciding when to begin claiming your Social Security benefits will depend on several factors, such as your personal health and financial standings. It's true that waiting to access benefits will increase your monthly payments down the road. But, full access will depend on your birth date and some may need to access benefits sooner. To help you better navigate this issue, below we’re examining the variables that could impact when you decide to begin claiming your Social Security benefits.
Should You Delay Social Security Benefits?
Social Security benefits become accessible at age 62, but full retirement benefits will only be available once an individual reaches their full retirement age, determined by their birth date.1 Any benefits received before reaching your full retirement age are reduced by a percentage, also determined by birth date, ranging between 25 and 30 percent.1
According to the Social Security Administration, this percentage reduction is often permanent, meaning if you were to access benefits at 62, the percentage taken off of Social Security would remain, even after reaching full retirement age.2 If you were to wait longer than the full retirement age to access Social Security benefits, you would receive a retirement credit, a bonus percentage determined by how long you waited, up to a maximum age of 70.2
Social Security and Taxes
It is possible for your Social Security benefits to be taxed. This may happen if the total of half your Social Security benefits plus any additional income is greater than the IRS’s base amount for your tax filing status.3
The current base amounts are:3
- Single or Head of Household: $25,000
- Married Filing Separately: $25,000
- Married Filing Jointly: $32,000
It’s important to note that for couples filing jointly, all taxable income earned by both spouses must be counted - even if one spouse does not yet receive Social Security benefits.
Receiving your Social Security benefits early may be beneficial for those with health conditions or a lower life expectancy. This option provides retirees with a steady source of income earlier, which could also benefit those who are no longer working and lack other income sources in retirement.
Alternatively, if you or your spouse have a family history of longevity and face few health problems, you may find it beneficial to hold off on collecting Social Security benefits until full retirement age.
The benefits of waiting are clear. But for some, withdrawing Social Security benefits early could bring a greater advantage. Investing Social Security funds has the potential to bring a greater return, as long as the benefits of the investment outweigh the loss from accessing Social Security early.
If this is something you are considering, you’ll want to work with your financial planner or investment advisor first to determine if this option is right for you.
Working and Social Security Benefits
You can continue to work past your full retirement age. In fact, working longer can actually increase the total amount you receive in Social Security benefits.2 Remember to consider tax implications with this route, as a greater income may bring greater tax implications.
Your monthly benefits could be reduced if you work and collect benefits before full retirement or if you earn over a threshold. The reduced amount, however, is calculated back into your benefits once you reach full retirement age.4
Considering the factors above, deciding when to receive Social Security benefits will depend on your personal financial circumstances. For the best guidance, work with your financial advisor to examine your options and determine the best course of action.
To discuss in more detail, feel free to reach out to us.
CRA Investment Committee
Matt Reynolds CPA, CFP®
Tom Reynolds, CPA
Robert T. Martin, CFA, CFP®
Gordon Shearer Jr., CFP®
Jeff Hilliard, CFP®, CRPC®
Joe McCaffrey, CFP®
Important Disclosure Information
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by CRA Financial, LLC [“CRA]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from CRA. Please remember to contact CRA, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. CRA is neither a law firm, nor a certified public accounting firm, and no portion of the commentary content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of CRA’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request or at www.crafinancial.com. Please Note: IF you are a CRA client, Please advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.
Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. It should not be assumed that your CRA account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your CRA accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.
Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognitions by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any professional designation, certification, degree, or license, or any amount of prior experience or success, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if CRA is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers (to the extent applicable). Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, CRA did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of CRA by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: CRA’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including the criteria used for any reflected ranking.