When Is the Right Time to File for Social Security?

Navigating the choices and options available when you’re deciding when you should start taking Social Security.

In this episode of Retirement Revealed, I’m excited to tackle one of the most crucial questions in retirement planning: when to file for Social Security. As we kick off Social Security month, it’s worth looking back at last year’s Retirement Revealed episodes with guests like Mark Kiner and Devin Carroll

For the first podcast of “Social Security Month 2024”, we’re unpacking a three-step process to determine the optimal time to file for Social Security. 

1. Get a personalized life expectancy estimate

The life expectancy estimates you’ll find in the paper are likely using formulas that have some inherent challenges. You need a more accurate estimate of your life expectancy-one that includes the factors that are impacting you. I’ve seen it proved time and again—relying on generic statistics won’t cut it. Your unique health, lifestyle, and family history all play a role in determining your life expectancy.

2. Tailoring your Social Security estimate

Don’t settle for the one-size-fits-all projections from the government. Take the time to input your specific details, such as anticipated retirement age and income levels. By doing so, you’ll get a much clearer picture of what to expect from your Social Security benefits.

Just because you made a plan to start taking Social Security at a certain age, evaluating your options and getting creative with your start dates between you and your partner might provide you with the ability to draw on a larger amount for longer. 

3. View Social Security as insurance, not investment

This mindset shift can make a marked impact on how you approach your retirement planning. Social Security was designed to provide a safety net for people in their old age—a reliable source of income in your golden years.

Oftentimes, people view Social Security as an investment that they have to continue to build up, but that mindset can result in delaying your filing so long that your life ends before you have a chance to experience the benefits of your “investment.”

Ultimately, the best time to file for Social Security is when it maximizes your lifetime benefits. By following these steps and seeking personalized estimates, you can be more prepared to make the retirement decisions that work for your unique situation.

Related: Allspring Survey Reveals Common Keys to Retirement Satisfaction