When Should I Claim Social Security Benefits?

03/01/2022 Written by: Jayne Deutmeyer, AIF®

At what age you elect to begin taking your Social Security Benefits is a big decision – a decision that should not be taken lightly. In fact, it’s a wise exercise to model different scenarios to determine the best option for you and your family.

When making your election consider each of the following:

Am I planning to work and have earned income while I draw benefits?

  • If you claim benefits before your Full Retirement Age (FRA), you will need to be mindful of the amount you can earn and not be affected by a penalty. For 2022, benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 a worker earns above $19,560.00.
  • At FRA, your income is no longer a factor, and you will not be impacted by any penalty. You can simply earn all you want.

If I am married, how does my election affect my spouse and their election?

  • During the planning period, be sure to calculate the benefit of your spouse. Will one of you have a much higher benefit than the other?
  • Should the high wage earner hold off on claiming their benefit until FRA or age 70?
  • Often misunderstood is the survivor benefit when the first spouse passes away. The survivor will be reduced to one monthly Social Security check, which will be the larger of the two. Household expenses do not decrease by 50% when the first spouse passes away.

If I am divorced, what are my benefits and how does it impact my former spouse’s benefits?

  • You and your former spouse would have had to have been married for 10 years.
  • If your former spouse’s benefit is more than 50% of your individual benefit, you will receive an additional payment to at least equal 50%. If your Social Security benefits are greater than 50% of your former spouse, no additional benefit available.
  • Does not impact former spouse benefits.

What age can I claim benefits?

  • Benefits can be claimed as early as age 62, with a penalty.
  • Age 65 is no longer FRA and is often confused with Medicare age.
  • FRA is determined by your year of birth: 66 for individuals born between 1943 and 1954; 67 for individuals born after 1960

Will my monthly check increase?

  • Generally speaking, each year a cost-of-living increase will be determined and included with the January payment
  • If you are enrolled in Medicare B and claiming Social Security benefits, your monthly Social Security check will be reduced by the amount of your Medicare B premium.
  • Taxes can be withheld from monthly social security income checks.

Concerns continue around the solvency of Social Security Benefits and how that will impact the American retiree. If possible, the best solution is to create additional income sources during your working years and take advantage of your employer-sponsored retirement plan. Minimize unnecessary spending and become a good steward of your earnings and savings. Stay abreast of changes to better understand how they might affect you, your family, and/or beneficiaries.

As a reminder register for your online account at to monitor your progress and projections. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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