Should I take Early, Full or Delayed Social Security?
When Texas retirees should draw and the effect on their benefit amountBy Doug Mentes, Esq. | Last updated on January 19, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- How Are Social Security Retirement Benefits Calculated?
- What Age Should a Retiree Take Their Benefit?
- Spouses Can Benefit From the Other’s Benefit
- Early retirement at age 62
- full retirement at age 66 or 67
- delayed retirement up until age 70
How Are Social Security Retirement Benefits Calculated?Retirees who have worked for 10 or more years have gained eligibility for social security retirement benefits. The monthly benefit amount they receive once retired will be based on their lifetime earnings—the higher the earnings, the higher the benefit amount. To calculate their benefit, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at the retiree’s 35 highest earning years. Those earnings are indexed or adjusted to account for changes in average wages over the years. A formula is then applied to arrive at a benefit amount.
What Age Should a Retiree Take Their Benefit?The SSA indicates that a rule of thumb on when to take the benefit is: If a senior needs the social security benefit money, take it; but if a senior can afford to wait, take it later. The Social Security Administration claims that the total amount of benefits a retiree will receive should work out about the same regardless of whether they take the benefit early or late. Factors to weigh in determining when to take the benefit include:
- Current health of the retiree
- Retiree’s family health history
- Financial condition of the retiree
- Marriage status of retiree
- An extra year of earnings may increase their monthly benefit amount
- Receive delayed retirement credits for each year delayed beyond full retirement age
- $733 monthly benefit amount if take at age 62
- $1,300 monthly benefit amount if take at age 70
Spouses Can Benefit From the Other’s BenefitSpouses may earn their own benefit or, if their earnings are much lower, can choose to take a benefit amount equal to 50 percent of the higher earning spouse. This also applies to divorced spouses who were married for at least 10 years. The benefit to the divorced spouse will not affect the amount to the recipient or their spouse. If the higher earning spouse passes away, a surviving spouse will receive 100 percent of the benefit amount of the deceased spouse. That amount depends on whether the deceased spouse has retired early or delayed retirement. This also applies for a divorced surviving spouse; they will also receive their qualified benefit amount once their ex-spouse passes. The SSA cautions that social security retirement is only one part of a proper retirement plan, which should also include income from pensions or retirement accounts, savings, and potentially part-time employment. To determine the best time to apply for social security retirement, those nearing retirement should contact an experienced Texas elder law attorney. For more information on this area, see our overview of elder law and estate planning.
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