You can claim Social Security benefits at age 62. Well, really, 61 and nine months. But just because you can apply doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you delay collecting your benefits, the payments will continue to increase until you reach age 70. So, you might want to see if it makes sense for you to wait. It is important to note here that the system is designed so that total benefits received over your lifetime are about the same, no matter when you start collecting, if you live an average life span. Checks that start arriving at age 62 will be considerably smaller, but you'll likely receive many more of them. So for most people who live an average-length life, it's close to a wash.
Here’s how it works: Say you just turned 62, and you’re looking forward to the boost in income your Social Security check could provide. As an example, let’s suppose you’re eligible to collect $1,200 a month at this point. But, if you wait to claim Social Security until you reach your full retirement age (between 66 and 67 depending on your birth year), that monthly payment will increase by up to 25 percent. In this example, you would receive $300 more a month, bringing your monthly check to $1,500. If you’re able to wait just a little longer to claim benefits when you’re 70, your check will jump another 32 percent. In real dollars, this adds up to $1,980 payment per month. You would receive almost $800 more a month than if you file at age 62. That’s a pretty big increase in monthly payments, but remember that you waited several years to start receiving them. It is a trade-off that you need to consider.
Interested in learning more about Social Security? Head to the Medicare Learning Center and check out A Beginner’s Guide to Social Security.