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Retirement Planning

Social Security benefits by year of birth

If you want to retire early, be sure to consider things such as your health, finances, family financial needs and the fact that retirement could be a lot longer than you think. Plus, you'll need to understand what the SSA considers full retirement age.

Thinking about retiring sooner rather than later may find you thumbing through vacation brochures, but have you considered how an early retirement can affect your Social Security benefits?

You can apply for your Social Security benefits beginning at age 62. Just how much you'll receive is based on the age at which your benefits are claimed. Keep in mind that there are advantages as well as disadvantages when it comes to taking your Social Security benefit before your full retirement age.

For example, you can walk away from a lifetime of hard work at age 62, with immediate benefit payments scheduled for the rest of your life. However, the disadvantage is that your payments will be substantially reduced by taking them early. Now, if you wait until you reach your full or “normal” retirement age you'll get a bigger payout, but of course, you'll have to wait longer for it.

Making the right decision

There is no way to recommend the best age in which to retire, because everyone has different life situations and financial needs. However, there are some considerations. For example, with most of us are living longer and healthier lives, retirement might last longer than you think. In fact, about one in four 65-year-olds today will live to age 90, and more than one in seven will live to age 95.1 So while Social Security benefits are meant to last as long as you live, you need to select a retirement age that's based on your individual circumstances, ensuring that you have sufficient income at a time when you need it the most.

Another consideration when it comes to taking reduced benefits at age 62, is the effect it may have on your family. For example, if you die before your spouse, he or she may be able to receive survivor benefits. Taking your benefits early can mean that he or she won't receive full benefits to live on after you're gone.

These are just two common examples of why it's important to carefully consider when to apply for your Social Security benefits. Others can include your overall health and personal finances.

Want to see how your benefits can change based on the age you begin taking them? The Social Security Administration provides a chart that shows the reduction amounts according to age, and includes examples based on an estimated monthly benefit of $1000 at full retirement. 





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