Patience is a virtue… Especially when it comes to receiving social security income.

It isn’t a surprise that many people, Boomers and Millennials alike, are going to rely on Social Security to help fund their retirement. Actually according to an article published this morning on Mainstreet.com, 85% of Baby Boomers and 54% of Millennials expect SS to be a “top source” of income during retirement. It is debatable as to why there is a difference between generations and who plans on using SS, but one thing that is clear is that there will be a majority of the population using it for the next few decades. However, not all of the SS users will be receiving the same benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration website (ssa.gov) there are different benefits depending on when a person actually retires. Someone can actually receive less than 100% of their SS income if they retire early, but they could also receive more than 100% if they retired later than the age of 67. The SSA website is actually very helpful, but you have to understand that it was probably written by a government administrator and isn’t the easiest of reads. I have provided a summary of information that I found on the SSA website to spare you from reading through the long and complicated version.

Basically, the earliest you can “retire” and receive SS benefits is at the age of 62. At 62 you receive the LEAST amount of benefits at only 70.42% of your total allowable SS benefits. Normal retirement age, as defined by the SSA, is 67 years old. At 67, you would receive 100% of your allowable SS benefits. You can claim your benefits after the “normal retirement age” and actually receive a bonus for doing so. The latest you can wait, and receive any kind of added benefits, is the age of 70. At 70, you would receive 124% of your allowable SS benefits. Below is a chart that shows the different percentages of SS benefits depending on what age you decide to retire.

 

As you can see, it is MUCH more beneficial to elect to receive SS benefits until after the age of 67. The difference between retiring 3 years earlier (age 64) or 3 years later (age 70) is a 20% decrease or a 24% increase. You get more money for waiting.

Now, every person is different and everyone has a different scenario when it some to retirement-income needs. Not everyone can wait an extra 3 years to start receiving SS income, some can barely wait until age 62. I wrote this article to try and do 2 things. First, inform people about how the SS benefits work from a general perspective. Secondly, I aim to hopefully motivate people to plan ahead. If you plan on supplementing your retirement with IRAs, Real Estate Investments, Employee Retirement Plans, or another form of retirement investment then you can potentially wait longer to request SS benefits. In other words, you can AFFORD to have patience.

For more information on SS benefits, visit the SSA website.

Sources:
Mainstreet.com article: http://www.mainstreet.com/article/retirement/think-twice-about-social-security-early-retirement
SSA website: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/early_late.html