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This frequently used Social Security strategy could cost you $182,000

This frequently used Social Security strategy could cost you $182,000

This frequently used Social Security strategy could cost you $182,000
Nov 29, 2022 2 mins, 3 secs

The Social Security Administration pays a worker's full benefits at what it calls "full retirement age," which ranges from 66 to 67 years old, depending on your birth year. .

But people can also claim Social Security as soon as they turn 62, with the tradeoff of a roughly 30% reduction in their monthly checks.

workers wait until they turn 70 to claim Social Security, even though the vast majority would be better off to wait until then to trigger their retirement benefits, the researchers found. .

There's a very real price tag to claiming Social Security too early, as the typical worker is leaving about $182,000 in lifetime discretionary income on the table by claiming before they turn 70, the report noted — income that most Americans could sorely use given that many haven't saved enough to carry them through old age. .

Almost half of Americans claim Social Security before they hit full retirement age, and about one-quarter claim at age 62, according to data from the Social Security Administration. .

Some people decide to claim Social Security early based on the average life expectancy for 65-year-olds, which is 83 years for men and 85 for women.

However, claiming at 62 could give a retiree an extra eight years of Social Security income that they could spend or save compared with waiting until age 70 — a tempting offer for someone who believes  that money could be put to good use at that moment, such as toward living expenses or savings. .

And people who worry they might not have as many years ahead of them as their compatriots might also be tempted to claim early to enjoy the benefit while they can.

To be sure, people think that dying before they claim Social Security is a "terrible waste," Kotlikoff said.

Almost half of Americans over 55 lack any retirement savings, which means those workers will be more reliant on Social Security in their old age and may be tempted to claim early in order to have a steady stream of income as soon as they turn 62.

But Kotlikoff said people who remain physically active when they turn 62 should stay in the labor market rather than claim Social Security because by maximizing their benefits, they'll be better off in the long run.

"We found that [waiting to claim Social Security] reduces people's spending at the median by 7% — the message being that people think they would have nothing to live on, but a lot of people have resources" beyond Social Security, Kotlikoff said

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