The 3 Best and 2 Worst Reasons to Claim Social Security at 62

You can start getting your Social Security retirement benefits for the first time as soon as you turn 62. This is classified as an early claim, though, since it’s well before the full retirement age when you become eligible for your standard benefit. It’s also a whopping eight years before 70, which is when you’d need to get your first check to maximize your monthly Social Security income.

Before starting your benefits at 62, you should carefully think about whether this is the right choice, since you’ll be reducing the potential monthly income you could get for the rest of your life.

There are definitely times when it actually makes sense to begin benefits ASAP. But there are also some really bad reasons for filing early. You’ll want to make sure you’re motivated by the right factors before you make a decision that’s hard to undo.

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These are the three best reasons to claim Social Security at 62

While claiming Social Security at 62 will undoubtedly leave you with less money each month, there are some good reasons you might be willing to start benefits then, because you decide the advantages of doing so outweigh the downsides. Here are three of them.

1. To enable early retirement

If you want to stop working and need Social Security to do it without draining your savings, that’s a really good reason to begin checks at 62.

Retiring early can significantly upgrade your lifestyle if you have enough money to do it and you are tired of working at your job. It may be well worth accepting a reduced benefit — as long as doing so doesn’t compromise your financial security — in order to give yourself more years to enjoy a life of leisure.

2. To get benefits while you are young and healthy

If you wait to get a higher benefit and you get sick or become less mobile during the delay, you might not end up enjoying the extra money. Health issues often develop sooner than people anticipate. If you would rather be able to spend your Social Security checks while you’re still young and in good shape, you may decide it’s worth the cut to monthly income in order to do that.

3. To unlock spousal benefits

Your spouse can claim Social Security benefits based on your earnings history, and can get up to 50% of your standard benefit available at full retirement age. But they can’t begin getting spousal benefits until you’ve filed for retirement checks.

If your spouse will get little or no money based on their own work record, you may decide it makes sense for you to claim early to make benefits available to your partner ASAP.

These are the two worst reasons to claim Social Security at 62

While you may have very valid reasons to decide to claim Social Security at 62, many people also make mistakes and start benefits too soon for the wrong reasons. Here are two really bad reasons for starting payments ASAP.

1. You don’t realize penalties for early filing are permanent

Some retirees incorrectly believe that an early Social Security claim results in only a temporary reduction in benefits. If you assume you’ll get a reduced check only until you reach your designated full retirement age and that your payments will be increased later, then you’re going to end up very disappointed.

Once you accept early filing penalties because you start your Social Security checks ahead of your FRA, you cannot undo the damage (except in rare cases, such as when you rescind your claim within 12 months and pay back all benefits received to date). You need to know that going in.

2. You’re afraid Social Security will run out

Finally, some people want to get their hands on their Social Security checks ASAP because they fear the government will stop sending payments.

That’s simply not going to happen. Even if benefit cuts occur because Social Security’s trust fund runs short, there will be money coming in to pay for around three-fourths of the promised payment amounts. And because of the popularity of Social Security, lawmakers are unlikely to allow any cuts to benefits to occur.

You don’t want to make a misguided choice about when to start your benefits based on these misconceptions, so make sure that you have really thought through whether to start your checks early before you make a decision you regret.

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