2. Avoid claiming too early
The age at which you start collecting Social Security makes a big difference in the size of your checks. (This chart shows how.) You can start as early as age 62, but your checks will be forever 25 percent to 30 percent less than you’re due, depending on when you were born. And if you die first, your spouse’s Social Security survivor benefits will be smaller than if you’d waited.
Some people have no choice. Many retirees stop work earlier than they planned because of illness or unemployment, or to be caregivers. In that case, try to use other sources of income if possible, so you can hold off claiming until you’re older.