Among the most rewarding things that U.S. seniors look forward to in retirement is their Social Security check.
After becoming eligible, how much money you receive each month is determined by several factors. These factors include: your age when you begin claiming benefits, how much you earned during your peak working years, and the type of beneficiary you are.
Because your age when you first file for Social Security has a direct bearing on the amount of your payments, money expert Clark Howard wants you to delay claiming your Social Security benefits until age 70 (but more on that later).
What Is the Average Social Security Check for Americans?
The Annual Statistical Supplement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows the average monthly benefit based on the type of beneficiary and age of the recipient.
The average Social Security check for Americans is $1,803.89, according to the latest annual report.
Let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at the monthly Social Security payments for each type of beneficiary.
|All Ages||Under 62||62–64||65 or Older|
|Wives/Husbands of Retired Workers||$900.97||$739.27||$627.50||$916.42|
|Wives/Husbands of Disabled Retired Workers||$408.42||$324.40||$399.29||$467.32|
|Parents of Deceased Workers||$1,537.98||NA||$1,513.25||$1,538.44|
Should You Wait To Collect Your Social Security Benefits?
It’s understandable that many older Americans would want to hurry up to claim their Social Security checks as soon as they’re eligible, which is typically at age 62.
On the other hand, there’s a school of thought that says it makes better sense financially to wait until your turn 70 — the age that qualifies you for maximum benefits — to collect Social Security, or as Clark sees it, “as long as you possibly can.”
One reason why Clark says he’s waiting until age 70 to take Social Security is how much money he’d be leaving on the table if he lives another 20 to 30 years.
“The greatest risk for all of us is something that’s actually good: longevity,” he adds. “And the check you get from the base [of Social Security] and then … the cost-of-living adjustments over the years are so much higher if you wait. And if you’re married, it may also heavily affect your spouse and the benefits they would receive after you pass away.”
If you can delay claiming your Social Security and squeeze out several more working years, Clark says you should do it. By waiting until age 70 or so, not only will you bet a bigger base check, but you’ll still reap the benefits of any cost-of-living-benefits increases passed during that time.
“You’re eligible for cost-of-living benefit increases starting with the year you become age 62. This is true even if you don’t get benefits until your full retirement age or even age 70,” Clark says.
Want more retirement advice? Read up on how you can estimate your Social Security benefit.