Personal Finance

3 Questions to Ask Before Claiming Social Security Early | Personal Finance

Because life expectancies have lengthened over time, a small majority of retirees now outlive the original projections. As a result, if you want to play the odds and take the step most likely to lead to higher lifetime benefits, you’d want to wait until 70 to claim your checks rather than filing early.

Of course, if you have serious health issues and are likely to pass away young, this calculation will be different for you, and an early claim could pay off.

3. Are you dooming your spouse to financial disaster?

When you start your benefit checks early, you can shrink the survivors benefits your spouse gets if you pass away first.

If you die first, your spouse could get survivors benefits equaling the larger of the two benefits you and your spouse were receiving (or benefits equal to what you’d have received at full retirement age if you hadn’t yet claimed your checks).

This means if you were the higher earner and you claimed benefits early, you’d end up shrinking the amount of money your spouse would otherwise get in survivor benefits. This could lead to financial disaster after you die, since your household’s income could fall dramatically upon your death.

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