Social Security At 62, 67, Or 70? How To Decide

Aug. 10, 2020 9:31 AM ETPFF, VPU, VWENX70 Comments

Summary

  • It is pretty well-known that there is a benefit penalty for taking Social Security earlier than your full retirement age.
  • There are dozens if not hundreds of articles about the penalty for taking SS earlier than your full retirement age.
  • There is little written explaining the full set of pros and cons for taking SS benefits at 62 versus your full retirement age or later.
  • This article provides a more complete picture on the pros and cons associated with taking SS benefits earlier or later than your full retirement age.

Introduction

How to plan and save for retirement, whether to use traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs, when to retire, how and when to draw down funds from IRAs, when to take Social Security [SS] benefits are all daunting subjects that require either significant research and thought by the individual or the services of a trusted and knowledgeable professional. I've written a few articles on the importance of retirement planning and on the need to start planning early. You can find those articles here on Seeking Alpha. Today, I'm of the opinion that there is not a single answer to most of these retirement planning questions that will work for everyone or even most people. An individual's or family's circumstances, retirement needs, and resources during their working years should be considered in planning for retirement and deciding when to do what. This article attempts to shine a brighter light on one aspect of retirement planning, that being, what are the pros, cons, and considerations associated with taking SS benefits before full retirement age (early) or waiting until 70 (late)?

Background

For those folks that participate in the SS program (the vast majority of the US population), there are several options for when and how to take SS benefits. We have the option of taking benefits starting at age 62 (earliest), at full retirement age (65 to 67), between 62 and full retirement age or waiting beyond full retirement age to take benefits at 70. Spouses can take benefits based on their individual earnings or a spousal benefit based on spouses' earnings. Taking benefits early does come with a monetary monthly penalty of up to 30% for those enrolling in benefits at 62 versus their full retirement age of 67. The Social Security Administration has done a pretty good job of explaining

This article was written by

Dirk Leach  Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from University of Michigan (Summa Cum Laude)  Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Washington State University  Executive MBA Program at Stanford University  41 year career in nuclear engineering, nuclear facility construction, US government contracting, DOE weapons complex, DOD contingency response and forward operating base design and construction.  Avid investor for more than 40 years, most of that time with the Vanguard Group. ***************************************************************************************************Carole Leach  Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University  Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Washington State University  35 year career spanning the areas of commercial nuclear power engineering services, nuclear waste clean-up engineering, management, and technical consulting with a focus on safety.

Disclosure: I am/we are long VWENX, PFF. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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