I’m thinking of retiring at 62. I’ll have enough savings/investments/pension to carry me for at least two years. I’d then apply for Social Security at 64 (instead of at my full retirement age of 66). My question: Will I get more money at age 64, even though I haven’t worked for two years, than if I start Social Security at 62?
Yes. When you take Social Security before your full retirement age, your benefit is permanently reduced. The closer you are to full retirement age, the smaller that reduction — and therefore, the bigger your benefit check.
Your benefit is cut by 25 percent if you take it at 62. If you would have received $1,000 at age 66, for example, at 62 you’ll receive $750. Like all Social Security recipients, you’ll get annual inflation adjustments, but your benefit will always be 25 percent smaller than if you’d started taking it at 66. If you start at age 63, your benefit is cut by only 20 percent; in this example, you’d receive $800. If you start at age 64, you’d receive $867, 13.3 percent less than your full benefit. And if you wait until age 65, you lose only 6.7 percent, so you’d collect $933.
The reductions for early application are calculated on a monthly basis, so delaying filing for Social Security for as little as one or two months can increase the size of your benefit.
For information about your actual situation, use the Social Security Retirement Estimate calculator at ssa.gov, which you can link to your earnings record. You can then type in your own assumptions to learn how changing the date you start collecting Social Security would affect the size of your benefit.
THE BOTTOM LINE Even if you retire early from work, delaying Social Security boosts your benefit.
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