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Before You Claim Social Security

Stuart Cooper
Stuart Cooper is a financial advisor with  Consumers Financial Group.

A few things you may want to think about before filing for benefits.

 

Provided by Stuart Cooper, CRPC®, Gerran Batterberry & Michael Pozzi

Whether you want to leave work at 62, 67, or 72, claiming the retirement benefits you are

entitled to by federal law is no casual decision. You will want to consider a few key factors first.

How long do you think you will live? If you have a feeling you will live into your nineties, for
example, it may be better to claim later. If you start receiving Social Security benefits at or after
Full Retirement Age (which varies from age 66 to 67 for those born in 1943 or later), your
monthly benefit will be larger than if you had claimed at 62. If you file for benefits at FRA or
later, chances are you probably a) worked into your mid‐sixties, b) are in fairly good health, and

c) have sizable retirement savings.1

If you really need retirement income, then claiming at or close to 62 might make more sense. If
you have an average lifespan, you will, theoretically, receive the average amount of lifetime
benefits regardless of when you claim them. Essentially, the choice comes down to more
lifetime payments that are smaller versus fewer lifetime payments that are larger. For the
record, Social Security’s actuaries project that the average 65‐year‐old man to live 84.0 years,

and the average 65‐year‐old woman, 86.5 years.2

Will you keep working? You might not want to work too much, since earning too much income

may result in your Social Security being withheld or taxed.

Prior to Full Retirement Age, your benefits may be lessened if your income tops certain limits.
In 2018, if you are aged 62 to 65, receive Social Security, and have an income over $17,040, $1
of your benefits will be withheld for every $2. If you receive Social Security and turn 66 later

this year, then $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $3 that you earn above $45,360.3

Social Security income may also be taxed above the program’s “combined income” threshold.
(“Combined income” = adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 50% of Social Security
benefits.) Single filers who have combined incomes from $25,000 to $34,000 may have to pay
federal income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits, and that also applies to joint
filers with combined incomes of $32,000 to $44,000. Single filers with combined incomes above
$34,000 and joint filers whose combined incomes surpass $44,000 may have to pay federal

income taxes on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits.3

When does your spouse want to file? Timing does matter, especially for two‐income couples. If
the lower‐earning spouse collects Social Security benefits first, and then the higher‐earning

spouse collects them later, that may result in greater lifetime benefits for the household.4

Finally, how much in benefits might be coming your way? Visit SSA.gov to find out, and keep in
mind that Social Security calculates your monthly benefit using a formula based on your 35
highest‐earning years. If you have worked for less than 35 years, Social Security fills in the
“blank years” with zeros. If you have, say, just 33 years of work experience, working another

couple years might translate to a slightly higher Social Security income.1

A claiming decision may be one of the most significant financial decisions of your life. Your
choices should be evaluated years in advance – with insight from the financial professional who
has helped you plan for retirement.

Stuart Cooper, CRPC® may be reached at 847‐672‐1833 or [email protected]
Gerran Batterberry may be reached at 847‐672‐1291 or [email protected]

Michael Pozzi may be reached at 847‐672‐1292 or [email protected]

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note ‐ investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Sources:

1 ‐ IRS.gov, February 20, 2020
2 ‐ DWC401k.com, May 10, 2020
3 ‐ CNBC.com, April 21, 2020
4 ‐ Investor.Vanguard.com, May 10, 2020
5 ‐ IRS.gov, November 6, 2019