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Why Don’t More People Wait To Claim Social Security At 70?

Why Don’t More People Wait to Claim Social Security at 70?

Social Security provides tens of millions of Americans with much-needed money for living expenses. Americans with a work history can claim retirement benefits as early as age 62, so it’s no wonder that few of them even consider waiting until age 70 to do so — even though it would get them their maximum monthly benefit. A recent study by the Centers for Retirement Research at Boston College showed that only 4% of women and 2% of men wait until age 70 to file for Social Security. By contrast, 48% of women and 42% of men claimed their benefits at age 62, and only about 10% waited beyond their full retirement age.

With those numbers in mind, let’s look at some of the reasons why so few people wait to claim Social Security at age 70.

1. For spousal benefits, waiting beyond full retirement age doesn’t result in higher payments

The general rule for Social Security retirement benefits is that every month you wait between age 62 and 70 to file results in a higher monthly payout. Claiming before your full retirement age — which is between 66 and 67 for those claiming this year — will permanently reduce your benefit by up to 26%. Wait beyond full retirement age, on the other hand, and retired workers can get an 8% bump in their monthly check for every year they wait due to delayed retirement credits.

However, if you get spousal benefits based on someone else’s work history rather than retirement benefits based on your own work record, then delayed-retirement credits aren’t available. Waiting until full retirement age still results in a higher check than claiming at 62, but waiting until 70 just doesn’t make sense, because it doesn’t boost your check any further than taking your payments right at full retirement age.

Social Security cards with key.
Image source: Getty Images.

2. For survivor benefits, you can sometimes claim early and get the benefit of waiting

If your spouse has passed away, then your survivor benefits and any retirement benefits from your own work history are treated separately. As a result, it can sometimes make sense to claim survivor benefits based on your deceased spouse’s work…

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