Deciding when to apply for Social Security can be a complicated math problem, one that has a different answer for each person depending on their circumstances. The earlier you file, the lower your benefit amount, but the more payments you receive over time. The later you file, the higher the benefit, but the fewer payments you receive. If you have other income, the portion of your benefit could be taxed — up to 85%. And if you’re married, you may be able to stagger your individual Social Security retirement benefit applications for an optimal financial outcome.
Generally speaking, the main constant in this math problem is a person’s expected Social Security retirement benefit: the amount you would receive if you waited until full retirement age to claim your benefit. By creating an account at SSA.gov , you can see what your benefit is projected to be at each age from 62 on. But there are many other factors to consider when choosing your retirement date.
At What Age Can You Apply for Social Security
Here, you’ll learn more about selecting the right age to apply for Social Security, whether that’s 62 or older.
Applying for Social Security at Age 62
The earliest most people can apply for Social Security is age 62. The greater the difference between when you apply and when you reach full retirement age, the more the Social Security Administration will reduce the amount of your benefit. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. Taking retirement at 62 will cause your benefit to be reduced by about 30%.
If your benefit at full retirement would be $1,000 a month, and you file for benefits at 62, you will only receive about $700 or 70% of the amount you would have received at full retirement. For each month you wait past the age of 62, that amount rises a little bit. At $700 a month, if you lived to the average U.S. lifespan of about 80 years old, you would receive $151,200 over your lifetime.
Applying for Social Security at Age 65
Many people don’t want to wait for their full retirement age. In fact, the average retirement age is 64. If you were born after 1960 and you retire at 65, you can expect to receive 86.7% of your full retirement benefit. The Social Security Retirement Age Calculator shows when to apply for Social Security for maximum benefit with minimum waiting.
Applying for Social Security at Age 67
If you wait to apply for benefits until full retirement, you will get the full amount of your benefit. In the example used above, that would be $1,000 a month. In this scenario, if you live to age 80, you would receive $156,000 over your lifetime, which is $5,000 more than if you filed five years earlier.
Applying for Social Security at Age 70
Every month you delay applying for benefits causes the monthly benefit amount to grow, up until age 70. If you file at age 70, your monthly Social Security retirement payment is 30% higher than it would have been if you filed at full retirement. Rather than receiving $1,000 a month you would receive about $1,300 a month. If you live to age 80, that comes to $156,000 which is the same total amount you would receive if you filed at full retirement age. This brings into the equation one of the factors that influences at what age you may want to file for Social Security benefits: how long you expect to live.
Get up to $250 towards your holiday shopping.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $250 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!1
Other Factors That Drive When To Apply For Social Security
Now, here’s what you need to consider in terms of the other factors that impact when you apply for Social Security benefits.
How Long Will You Live?
Of course, no one knows for certain how long they will live. The Social Security Administration has a rather sobering life expectancy calculator that shows at what age a person born on your birthday can expect to die, on average. It’s based on your birthdate and doesn’t factor in health, genetics, or lifestyle. If you expect to live only to age 75, for example, you might be inclined to take your Social Security benefit early so that you could enjoy it for a longer time. But if you live until age 90, taking Social Security retirement benefits early could cost you a lot of money. Here’s how your lifetime benefit would be impacted by filing at different ages if your full retirement benefit is $1,000 a month:
• At age 62, you would receive a total of $235,000 over your lifespan.
• At age 65, you would receive $260,100.
• At 67 that jumps to $276,000.
• If you wait until age 70 it is $312,000.
So, if you expect to live a long life, waiting a few years to file could make a big difference in your total benefit.
Are You Married?
There are many myths around Social Security benefits, so it’s important to delve into your particular situation. Spouses are eligible for half of the benefit their spouse would receive at full retirement age. That amount is reduced if the primary beneficiary files early. For instance, if you apply for Social Security benefits before you reach full retirement age, you would automatically be deemed as applying for spousal benefits as well if your spouse is already receiving benefits. The maximum spousal benefit you can qualify for is typically 50% of your partner’s benefits calculated at full retirement age.
One option for spouses is to file for one spouse’s benefit early, say at 62, and postpone filing for the other spouse’s benefit until age 70. This can provide money now and more money later. If one partner dies, the surviving partner is automatically assigned the higher benefit between their own and their late spouse.
Do You Have Other Income?
You may wonder what is a good monthly retirement income for a couple. Keep in mind that the average couple in their 60s and 70s spends around $4,000 a month, or $48,000 a year.
A lot of that is spent on the typical retirement expenses of housing and healthcare. The average retirement benefit in May 2022 was $1,688. So an average couple would receive $3,376 in benefits. Consequently, many people have to rely on other forms of income including wages from a job, pensions, dividends, interest or capital gains in addition to their Social Security benefit. In fact, having access to other forms of income may impact when you can retire.
If you do have income besides your Social Security benefit, and most people do, you might want to delay claiming your benefit. If you earn income from working, and you claim your benefit before full retirement age, your benefit may be reduced. If you have other types of income, such as pensions or interest on the money you’ve saved in your retirement account, your benefit will not be reduced; these don’t count as earnings. However, you may have to pay taxes on it.
For most people, their Social Security benefit is unlikely to sustain them through their retirement years; they need to have another source of income. The earlier they retire, the smaller their benefit will be and the more they may need a second or third source of income. Gaining that income through wages can reduce your benefit if you retire before full retirement age.
Whether you’re planning for retirement or have already retired, having a smart banking partner can be a true asset. When you open an online bank account with SoFi, you enjoy a variety of benefits. With our Checking and Savings account, you’ll spend and save in one convenient place. What’s more, you’ll enjoy a hyper competitive APY and no account fees, both of which can help your money grow faster.
Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.