3 Social Security Moves to Make Before Age 62
Whether or not you are depending on Social Security benefits to make or break your retirement, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place to maximize your monthly payments when the time comes. The earliest you can file for Social Security is age 62, but your benefits are not set in stone. The decisions you make leading up to retirement will have an impact on how much you receive each month. Here are three things you should do before age 62 to maximize your Social Security benefits.
- Determine Your Full Retirement Age – Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age at which you’ll receive the full benefit amount you’re entitled to based on your work record. If you were born in 1960 or later, your FRA is age 67. If you were born before 1960, you have an FRA of either 66 or 66 plus a certain number of months, depending on your exact birth year. If you claim before your FRA, you’ll receive smaller checks each month. If you delay your claim until after your FRA, you’ll receive your full benefit amount plus a bonus each month.
- Decide When You Will Claim – Age 62 is the earliest you can file, but doing so will permanently reduce your benefit amount by up to 30%. If you delay benefits up to age 70, you could collect up to 32% extra each month, on top of your full benefit amount. The decision depends on your unique situation, but it might be a good idea to check with a financial advisor before age 62 to determine the right strategy for you.
- Check Your Estimated Benefit Amount – Even if you’re years away from retiring, you can check now to see how much you’re expected to receive in Social Security benefits. You’ll need to create a mySocialSecurity account. You can do that by going to www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Here, you can review your Social Security statements to see your estimated benefit amount based on earnings throughout your career.
Understand that this benefit amount could change depending on how much you earn between now and the time you file for Social Security. Also, this number assumes you’ll be claiming at your FRA. If you plan to file before or after that age, it will affect your monthly payments.