What’s the best age to claim Social Security? You can start collecting benefits as early as 62, but money expert Clark Howard says that’s not the best decision in the long run for most Americans.
On his 63rd birthday, Clark led off his radio show by talking about Social Security and revealed a pretty shocking statistic.
“The largest percent of people Social Security eligible start taking Social Security at 62 than any other age. Almost no one, from a financial standpoint, should take Social Security at age 62.”
More than half of Americans claim Social Security benefits before their full retirement age
Clark was referring to data from the Social Security Administration that was published on USA Today’s website. Here’s a snapshot of when people collect Social Security benefits:
- Age 62: 34.3%
- Age 63: 6.3%
- Age 64: 6.4%
- Age 65: 10.3%
- Age 66: 18.1%
- Age 67-69: 3.9%
- Age 70: 3.7%
- Disability: 17%
You can begin your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Many people wait until their “full (or normal) retirement age,” which is between 66 and 67 years for today’s workers.
If you claim Social Security before your full retirement age — like most people — your benefits will be reduced.
However, if you can wait until after your full retirement age (click here to find out yours) or even longer, your benefits will continue to increase until age 70.
That’s why Clark says he plans to be one of the 3.7% of Americans who wait until age 70 to start collecting Social Security.
“Every year that you wait, you get an additional 8% in your check. And once you start taking it, every increase is based on the base that you started at. So you end up with a lot more money to live on later in life if you wait to take Social Security.”
For people who are in poor health, have excessive debt or can’t find a job, Clark understands why they may need to start their retirement benefits at 62.
But if you can delay benefits until you turn 70 — or at least the full retirement age — you’ll have a much larger monthly check.
Listen to Clark talk about Social Security benefits on The Clark Howard Show Podcast
The Social Security Administration has a useful calculator on its website that lets you see what early or delayed retirement will mean for your monthly benefits.
Follow this link and scroll down until you see “Compute the effect of early or delayed retirement.”