I do not typically recommend you wait until 70 to take Social Security. I’ve heard people say you should, that your benefits will accumulate and you’ll get a higher payout and more money over your lifetime. I think the people making this recommendation are academics who don’t live in the real world. Of course, by waiting you do get delayed benefit credits, which increase the amount of your benefit by 8 percent each year.
So, yes, the amount of money you’d eventually receive would be higher. But we’ve done a lot of analyses for our clients over the years, and in my opinion, waiting until 70 rarely adds up. Look at it this way: No matter what, you will have to cover expenses for four years (from age 66 to 70). Would it be smarter to draw from your IRA, and pay those taxes, or to collect your potentially tax-free Social Security benefits?
As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of waiting until 70, but there’s one reason you might consider it. As you probably know, Social Security has a death benefit: In the event of your death, your spouse can collect his or her own Social Security or yours, whichever is more. Let’s say you have been the major breadwinner over the years—you earned most of the money so your Social Security benefits are higher. If you are not in good health, or if your family members don’t tend to live long lives, you may want to wait until 70 so that you receive the maximum benefit. That way, upon your death your spouse can take over your benefits at that higher level. Being able to collect your maximum Social Security benefit could be a big deal to your spouse, especially if he or or she didn’t pay much into the Social Security system.
When we talk with our clients, we ask them to consider their health, their longevity, and their spouse when deciding when to take Social Security benefits. I think it’s wise you do the same.