When you claim Social Security is one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your retirement, and while claiming later means more money in almost every case, the 2020s may be the decade of claiming benefits early.
Social Security Administration data suggests around 62% of retired workers count on their monthly benefits checks for over half of their income, even though the program is only designed to replace around 40% of said income.
The earliest you can file for Social Security is 62 and newer retirees won’t even hit their full retirement age until 66, which is the age that you will start receiving full benefits. Starting before full retirement age would actually cut into your benefits by up to 30%, depending on how long before the full age you choose to start.
The SSA has found that around 3 of 5 beneficiaries start claiming their checks before turning 66, but why would anyone want to start benefits early if their checks will receive a permanent cut?
It all comes down to funding, and funding issues for Social Security has been an issue for nearly four decades now — but the government has seemingly chosen to ignore it.
Per The Motley Fool:
Every year, the Social Security Board of Trustees releases its short-term (10-year) and long-term (75-year) outlooks for the Social Security program. Since 1985, the Trustees report has cautioned that long-term revenue generation would be insufficient to cover program expenditures.
The Trustees’ 2019 report showed there is an estimated $13.9 trillion cash shortfall between 2035 and 2093, and 2020 will actually be the first year since 1982 where Social Security will actually spend more than it is able to bring in through payroll taxes and other means due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation.
So lawmakers have maybe 15 years to figure out a solution to Social Security’s cash hemorrhaging before the program will have to cut benefits by up to 23% across the board, which may be why people are starting to file earlier and earlier — but it shouldn’t be.
In fact, a report from United Income shows that the optimal age for claiming Social Security was 70 for 57% of the 2,000 households studied. That same study found that over 80% would have benefited more by waiting until at least 67. Taking their payments between ages 62 and 65 would have been beneficial for less than 7%.
And lawmakers already have some proposals in the works in the works to fix the funding issues.
So the 2020s may see a surge in early Social Security claims, but that doesn’t mean it’s for the right reasons, which is why it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible on what will work best for you in retirement.
• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money and Markets.
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