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When people plan to save on electricity, the decision of when to begin taking Social Security benefits eventually comes up. Social Security is an important source of retirement income for many individuals and, therefore, the decision of when to take these benefits can make a big impact on retirement income.

A retired worker who is fully insured can elect to start receiving benefits at any time between age 62 and 65 (or even later). Benefits can start as early as 62, but if you so elect they are permanently reduced by 20%. Here is where the question arises. Is it better to start taking checks at a reduced amount or wait until Normal Retirement Age and receive full benefits? Before addressing the inherent problems with this empirical question, let's look at some of the factors and considerations.

The early bird who decides to get the worm first gets three years' worth of checks -36 payments- that the sleeping bird will never see. Thus, it will take some time for the total benefits of the person who waits until age 65 to catch up to those of the early collector. Further, for those born after 1937, Normal Retirement Age is being extended. Normal Retirement Age is currently age 65, yet due to the Social Security amendments, full benefit age will be raised gradually in two stages until eventually reaching 67 in 2027. Thus, the early bird will receive even more checks than the retiree who bides his time for full benefits.



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