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Deciding when to take Social Security really depends on your own financial situation and your retirement goals.

The longer you wait to draw from Social Security, the more you may be entitled to additional benefits. Some workers fear waiting too long and dying before they start to draw Social Security. Deciding when to start taking Social Security is a personal decision that involves many different factors.It may be a good idea to assess your goals, finances, health, and lifestyle.

Making Sense of the Timing

In the past workers were discouraged from staying in the workforce past the age of retirement or re-entering the workforce in even a casual or part-time capacity. Changes to legislation have changed that, giving older workers incentives to continue to work even while drawing from Social Security.

There are new annual limits, allowing workers to earn up to a certain amount each year until they reach their complete retirement age. At this point – and thereafter – your Social Security benefits will not be affected regardless of what you earn.

So what is the right choice for you? First, review your retirement plan and really determine your financial confidence before you embark on retirement. Take inventory of your assets and see if you have enough in savings, investments, and anticipated benefits to enjoy the lifestyle in retirement you have envisioned. You may have enough to realize your dreams, or you may find out that you are a bit short of meeting your goals.

Social Security Considerations

Many seniors in today’s economic climate find that it makes the most financial sense for them to start drawing Social Security benefit sooner rather than later. Anyone eligible for Social Security may start monthly benefit payments as young as age 62 and as old as age 70.

Here are some things to think about as you decide:

  • Actual monthly benefits vary depending on your personal earning history and the age when you start drawing benefits.
  • If you start drawing earlier, your payments would be reduced slightly – but you will draw them for a longer time.
  • If you wait until age 70, your monthly benefits may be higher, but depending on your life expectancy you may draw the benefits for a shorter period of time.
  • Under the new legislation you may earn several thousand dollars without penalty up to an annual limit before you are the age of full retirement. This could add to your overall average earnings, thereby increasing your monthly benefits when you do reach the age of full retirement.
  • If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the annual limit, you will lose some or all of your Social Security benefit. However, this could be paid back to you when you reach full retirement age your monthly benefits will be increased to make up for the months they were reduced or not received.

Check out the Social Security website for more information that may pertain to your own personal situation.

Personal Factors to Consider

Every individual’s immediate needs will be different. Here are some things to think about when you reflect on your own current situation:

  • What are your current cash requirements? If you have stable employment your needs will not be the same as someone who is out of work.
  • How is your health? Someone with poor health or illness will have very different needs than someone who is healthy and employable for the foreseeable future.
  • Are you unable to work due to disability or other hardship? If you are, you may qualify for other plans such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Someone facing certain economic strain may turn to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for help.
  • What is your retirement looking like? Some grandparents today have to consider helping their adult children or even raising their grandchildren. If you have high debt you will also have to consider how to meet your obligations on a fixed income or eliminate your debt faster.
  • What are your goals for estate planning? If you want to leave something for dependents or other loved ones, there are steps you can take to minimize taxation and ensure your last wishes are considered.

There are no hard and fast rules. But if you know that you have years of work ahead of you and few worries about financial instability, you may want to consider waiting to start drawing Social Security so that your benefits are maximized into your old age. If, however, your health is declining or you are struggling financially you may want to consider starting Social Security as young as age 62 and continuing to work so that you are more comfortable immediately.

When in doubt, consult a trusted financial advisor to help you. A Certified Financial Planner can review your personal situation and may be able to help you determine the best strategy to achieve financial independence. You can contact Certified Financial Planner™ Debbie Craig with Craig Wealth Advisors located in Northern Michigan for a complimentary, no obligation, consultation.

By Debbie Craig CFP®, MBA, CRPS®

Branch Manager

The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the developments referred to in this material.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Please contact your Financial Advisor before implementing any financial strategy.

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