If you are approaching retirement, you’re likely facing a number of big questions. How will you spend your newfound free time? What kind of budget will you have? Will you downsize or stay in your home?

One of the biggest questions may be when to file for Social Security. While many people decide to file for their benefits as soon as possible, that’s not always the best strategy. By delaying your filing, you could reap some important benefits.
Whether you choose to start receiving your benefits as soon as possible or hold off, you should make sure you think through your decision. Once you file, you can’t change your mind. Below are a few things you might want to consider as you decide when to file for your Social Security benefits:

Do you need the income?
If you need your Social Security benefits to survive, then it may not make sense to wait. You may get a higher benefit amount by waiting, but that doesn’t mean you should live in poverty today. If you’re in a challenging financial situation because of medical issues or perhaps a forced early retirement, it’s possible Social Security could be your only option for income. In that case, it could be a wise idea to file sooner rather than later.

It’s important to remember that need is different than want. You may want the extra income to help you fund certain financial goals or large purchases, but that doesn’t mean you need your Social Security benefits right away. Be objective and consider whether you really need the income or if you simply want it.

This is important because the longer you can delay filing, the more Social Security benefits you’ll receive. In fact, for each year past your full retirement age (FRA) that you delay filing, you’ll receive an 8 percent increase to your benefit amount.1 For example, if you wait four years past your FRA, you will get 32 percent more from your Social Security. This extra income can go a long way toward helping you fund your retirement plans, especially in the later years.

Will your health lead to a short retirement?
If you won’t live long enough to benefit from increased Social Security payments, it might make sense to file soon. That way you can receive the benefits for many years. If you delay filing and then pass away before or shortly after you start receiving payments, then you may not benefit from Social Security as much as you could.

For instance, you may have a chronic, long-term issue that’s likely to shorten your life span. Or perhaps you recently received a diagnosis that’s likely to shorten your life. Even if you don’t currently have health problems, you might have a family history of passing away early into retirement. If things like heart disease or cancer run in the family, then you might want to file sooner.

You should be careful when considering family history, however. Technology and health care are advancing every day. Just because your parents or grandparents died early in retirement doesn’t necessarily mean you will, too.

Can you take advantage of spousal benefits?
There are certain types of benefits you might be able to take advantage of if you are currently married. One example is something called a spousal benefit. It’s designed to help married individuals who’ve had less career earnings than their spouse. Under a spousal benefit, your Social Security amount is based on your spouse’s earnings rather than your own.

One way to capitalize on this benefit would be to take your benefits early while your spouse delays. It’s then possible to switch to your spousal benefit amount once your spouse files. Figuring out when to file can be difficult. You’ll probably want to work with your spouse and a financial professional to go over your options and decide which strategy is best for you.

Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us at MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. for more information. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon.

1https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/1943-delay.html

Investment advisory services offered through MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor in the state of Georgia. Insurance products & services offered through Fricks and Associates, Inc. MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. & Fricks and Associates, Inc are affiliated companies.

MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. & Fricks and Associates, Inc are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.

The material is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The insurance agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. Clients should seek guidance from the Social Security Administration regarding their particular situation. The insurance agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. Social Security benefit payout rates can and will change at the sole discretion of the Social Security Administration. For more information, please consult a local Social Security Administration office, or visit www.ssa.gov
 
16440 – 2017/2/15