When Should You Take Social Security?


About the Author Advisor

john madden

John Madden

Vice President
Berkeley, California


Information presented is general in nature and should not be viewed as a comprehensive analysis of the topics discussed. It is intended to serve as a tool containing general information that should assist you in the development of subsequent discussions. Content does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, nor is it intended to supplement professional individualized advice. Please consult a professional applying any of the approaches or strategies made referenced directly or indirectly in this report.


When it comes to retirement planning, the decision about when to take Social Security is one of the most critical. Putting off taking benefits for as long as possible means you receive more money. However, the majority of people today are taking benefits before reaching their full retirement age.

Full Retirement Age

As long as you’ve earned sufficient Social Security credits, you can start taking Social Security benefits at age 62. Those early benefits are reduced by a small percentage monthly until full retirement age kicks in.

For anyone born after January 2, 1960, the full retirement age for Social Security purposes is 67. Anyone born before 1955 has already reached full retirement age. For those born in 1955 through January 1, 1960, full retirement age ranges between 66 year and two months to 66 years and 10 months.

Delay taking benefits until age 70, and the amount increases. There are monetary benefits to waiting that can’t be ignored.

Early Benefits vs. Waiting

By taking early benefits, you’ll receive a smaller amount. On the other hand, you will receive benefits over a longer time period. The downside is that you could be leaving a considerable amount of money behind. For example, a person who is 48 in 2023 who takes Social Security benefits at age 65 will receive about 86 percent of what they are due, leaving roughly 14 percent of their benefits on the table.  

On the other hand, if a person born in 1956 waits until age 70 to take Social Security, they will effectively get a raise of as much as 129 percent of their benefits. Social Security provides delayed retirement credits of 8 percent yearly multiplied by the number of years you waited, so the wait can really pay off.

Keep in mind you can only wait so long. Even if you’re still working past age 70, your benefits will not increase.


There’s no strict rule about when to take Social Security benefits. It all depends on your individual situation. Here are factors to consider:

  • How long do you intend to keep working?
  • Do you intend to work part-time or do consulting after retiring from your primary employer?
  • How is your health?
  • If you are married, is your spouse still working?
  • Does longevity run in your family?

Health insurance is a major concern for early retirees. If you want to retire at 62, you aren’t eligible for Medicaid for another three years. How will you pay your health insurance premiums? If you have a spouse who is still working and you can receive coverage on their plan, that fact alone can make the difference between retiring or staying on the job.

Though it may seem preferable for some to wait in favor of collecting more later, not everyone is so lucky. Some need that money as soon as they can get it; others want it as soon as it’s available on the mere principle that they’ve paid into the system. In the end, it’s a very personal decision that should be made relative to all of your retirement resources and other financial planning decisions.

Contact Us

For more information about your retirement planning and estate planning needs, contact a financial advisor at EP Wealth Advisors today. We’ll put a plan together that suits your needs based on your considerations. Get put on track to retire when you want to!


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