The Biggest Social Security Mistake You’re Likely to Make

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This one simple misstep could cost you thousands of dollars in benefits a year.

You can claim Social Security benefits at age 62, but that doesn’t mean you should.

The longer you wait, the more you get — and we’re not talking peanuts, either.

“Checks claimed at age 62 are about 25 percent smaller than if you wait until your full retirement age,” CNNMoney says. That’s 67 for those born in 1960 or later, and a bit younger for those who were born earlier. You can find your full retirement age here.

Benefits keep growing after full retirement age, too, by 8 percent for each year you wait until age 70, CNNMoney says. They offer the example of a hypothetical 61-year-old making $55,000. A few scenarios:

  • She starts claiming benefits at 62, getting about $15,400 a year.
  • She starts at 66, which is her full retirement age, and gets $20,500 a year.
  • She starts at 70, and gets $27,100 a year.

If she lives until age 95, the difference between claiming at 62 and 70 is $177,000 in today’s dollars. That’s on top of the additional earnings she could make by continuing to work those eight years, plus the health benefits of working longer. Delaying retirement is said to reduce the risk of dementia.

Health issues or unemployment could take away that option, of course, and it may be hard to see that far into the future. So check out the video below for several other ways to boost your Social Security income:

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