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Social Security Question: What Is the Best Age to Collect Benefits?

Social Security
Social Security Card. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Social Security Check: What Age Should You Retire At? What Is the Average Age? For tens of millions of Americans—after years of pouring hard-earned money into the Social Security program—there will come a day when they will finally get to reap the benefits.

But before getting to that step, there is another important question to consider: When is the best time to retire?

A recent survey conducted by Natixis Investment Managers shed light on this topic and eventually found that the collected answers averaged out to age sixty-two, the earliest age one can begin collecting Social Security benefits.

Generational Gaps

There were, however, rather conspicuous differences seen among generations.

“The youngest cohort, Generation Y—ages twenty-five to forty—plans to retire at an average age of fifty-nine. For Generation X—now forty-one to fifty-six—the average age is sixty. Baby boomers—who range from fifty-seven to seventy-five—indicated they plan to work longer, with an average expected retirement age of sixty-eight,” CNBC writes.

“That’s as 83 percent of non-retired U.S. investors said they are confident they will be financially secure in retirement. That includes 88 percent of Gen Y, 82 percent of Gen X and 79 percent of baby boomers,” it continues.

However, the poll further revealed that 41 percent of respondents admitted that achieving financial security in retirement is “going to take a miracle.” That particular sentiment was the highest among Gen Y with 46 percent and followed by Gen X 45 percent and baby boomers 30 percent.

Collect Social Security Benefits at 62?

With the survey’s results in mind, is it really smart to retire at sixty-two and start collecting Social Security benefits? For many financial experts and planners, the answer is a hard no.

The reason lies within the math. Do note that to even qualify for Social Security benefits, an individual must have worked for at least ten years or have amassed at least forty work credits. And for those retirees who decide to collect Social Security at age sixty-two, know that the maximum amount is $2,364, but if one is able to wait until the full retirement age (FRA)—which is currently roughly sixty-six—the maximum benefit amount is $3,113.

As for the absolute maximum benefits, it currently stands at $4,194—but to land these hefty checks one must wait until age seventy to file.

On its website, the Social Security Administration says that “workers planning for their retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on age at retirement.”

It continues: “If a worker begins receiving benefits before his/her normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit. A worker can choose to retire as early as age sixty-two, but doing so may result in a reduction of as much as 30 percent. Starting to receive benefits after normal retirement age may result in larger benefits. With delayed retirement credits, a person can receive his or her largest benefit by retiring at age seventy.”

However, if one isn’t expected to live well into their seventies or eighties due to a medical condition, collecting benefits earlier could end up being a smart move.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.

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