3 Questions to Answer Before Taking Social Security

30 Apr 3 Questions to Answer Before Taking Social Security

Get the most out of your benefits.

Social Security will be a critical component of your financial strategy in retirement, so before you begin taking it, you should consider three important questions. The answers may affect whether you make the most of this retirement income source.

When to start? The Social Security Administration gives a choice on when to start receiving benefits. You can:

  • Start benefits at age 62
  • Claim them at your full retirement age
  • Delay payments until age 70


If you claim early, you can expect to receive a monthly benefit that will be lower than what you would have earned at full retirement. If you wait until age 70, you can expect to receive an even higher monthly benefit than you would have received if you had begun taking payments at your full retirement age.

When researching the timing that is best for you, it’s important to remember that many of the calculations the Social Security Administration uses are based on average life expectancy. If you live to the average life expectancy, you’ll eventually receive your full lifetime benefits.

In actual practice, it’s not quite that straightforward. If you live beyond the average life expectancy and you delay taking benefits, you could end up receiving more money.

The decision of when to begin taking benefits may hinge on whether you need the income now or if you can wait and, additionally, whether you think your life span will be shorter or longer than the average American.1,2

Should I continue to work? Besides providing you with income and personal satisfaction, spending a few more years in the workforce may help you to increase your retirement benefits. How? Social Security calculates your benefits using a formula based on your 35 highest-earning years. As your highest-earning years may come later in life, spending a few more years at the apex of your career might be a plus in the calculation.

If you begin taking benefits prior to your full retirement age and continue to work, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 in earnings above the prevailing annual limit. If you work during the year in which you attain full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 in earnings over the annual limit until the month you reach full retirement age.

After you attain your full retirement age, earned income no longer reduces benefit payments.2,3 Social Security will also adjust your benefits upward to “return” to you the amount it withheld.

How can I maximize my benefit? The easiest way to maximize your monthly Social Security is to simply wait until you turn age 70 before claiming your benefits.1,2


This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

1 – nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/take-social-security-benefits [5/18/18]
2 – thestreet.com/retirement/social-security/maximum-social-security-benefit-14786537 [11/20/18]
3 – fool.com/retirement/2018/12/01/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-filing-for-social.aspx [12/1/18]

Parkshore Wealth Management is a family-owned, independent, fee-only Registered Investment Advisor serving the greater Sacramento area with an office in Roseville, CA. We partner with financially responsible individuals and families who are eager to take positive steps that will allow them to use their money to build the life they desire. The firm is led by Harold Anderson, CFP®, and Daniel Andersen, CFP®, both members of NAPFA, the country’s leading professional association of fee-only financial advisors.

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