Episode 61: What’s The Best Age To File For Social Security?

the best age to file for social security

As you approach your 60s, the hot question becomes, “When should I file for Social Security?”

It’s an easy question, right? You just figure out when you’re going to die, and then do the math. This would be a good way to figure out when to file if you could predict your death. But you can’t, so Devin explains the many reasons why the real question should be, “What if I live longer than expected?”

There are 12 factors to consider when trying to figure out when to file for Social Security benefits. These include:

  • gender
  • marital status
  • your contribution to the income
  • children’s ages
  • your health and any disabilities
  • spouse’s age
  • other income sources
  • tax status
  • employment status

The decision of when to start receiving benefits is this question: Do you want to get larger checks for a shorter period of time, or get smaller checks for a longer period of time? While there’s lots of research to show that it is better to file later, but that’s definitely not true for everyone.

There are several clear-cut cases where it is much better to file early:

  • You need the income.
  • If you have minor or disabled children at home.
  • You’re the lower-earner, and your spouse is in poor health.
  • If your spouse is the lower-earner and older than you.

While these situations aren’t terribly common, they show the importance of looking at the whole picture and not just making a decision using rules of thumb.

Most people will benefit from some professional advice in figuring out this question, but not every financial advisor understands all the nuances of Social Security.  So, how do you find an advisor that’s good with Social Security? As with finding any professional, you’ll have to ask a lot of questions.

The big takeaway from this week’s episode is that it’s important to look at your particular situation before you decide when to file for Social Security benefits. What’s right for most people may not be right for you.

Highlights include:

  • This crazy thing called hyperbolic discounting
  • Why it is important to file for Social Security disability if you’re eligible
  • Why the concepts of retiring and filing for Social Security need to be unhinged

Don’t forget that we have a whole episode about finding a general financial planner:  Episode 006: Hiring The Right Financial Advisor.

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Every month, Devin and John have an entire episode dedicated to answering listener questions.  If you have a question, submit it to questions@bigpictureretirement.net.