Just 4% of retirees start claiming Social Security benefits at the time that will maximize their income, according to a new study.1 As a result, today’s retirees will lose $3.4 trillion in potential income – about $111,000 per household.
These findings are based on an analysis of information of more than 2,000 households in a Social Security Administration sponsored survey. The study analyzed a variety of factors, including health, longevity, and financial situation, and projected Social Security benefits compared to optimized income.
The earliest eligibility age to claim Social Security benefits is typically 62. But the longer you wait the higher the monthly benefits, with those claiming Social Security at age 70 eligible to receive the highest monthly benefits.
The best time to begin taking Social Security benefits depends on many personal factors, including health, other savings, marital status, and retirement plans. Even within households, spouses can sometimes maximize Social Security by claiming benefits at different ages. While most err by claiming Social Security too early, those who are in poor health may be better off taking the benefits as soon as they can.
Social Security accounts for about one-third of all income annually received by U.S. retirees. According to the latest Gallup survey,2 57% of current retirees consider Social Security a "major source" of income. In fact, reliance on Social Security is at an all-time high, according to the Gallup study. Meanwhile, just a third of pre-retirees expect to rely on Social Security as their major source of income. Whether Social Security is the major source of retirement income or is supplementing other income sources, optimizing the start of benefits can significantly increase retirees’ financial peace of mind.
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1. Forbes, "Only 4% Of Retirees Claim Social Security At Optimal Time, Leaving $3.4 Trillion On Table," June 2019
2. Gallup, Social Security Poll, 2019