There's a reason so many seniors are eager to sign up for Social Security once they turn 62. That's the earliest age to file for benefits, and many want to take advantage of it.
While you might think claiming benefits as soon as possible is a good idea, it's a decision you might sorely regret down the line. Here's why.
The one income stream that's guaranteed
You may be privy to a number of different income streams once you enter retirement. But how reliable will they be?
Say you have a nest egg worth $1 million. At first glance, that might seem like a lot of money to enjoy throughout the years. But who's to say how the market will perform in the course of your retirement? If it doesn't do well, it could leave you with a lot less money to withdraw from your savings than you had anticipated.
Meanwhile, let's say you plan to rely on the income you collect from the dividend stocks in your portfolio. You might start out collecting generous dividends that make it easy to keep up with your expenses. But what if some of the companies you're invested in decide to cut their dividends or stop paying them altogether? At that point, that income stream won't go as far.
Finally, you could decide you'll own an income property in retirement and live on the rent payments you collect. But what if you end up with vacancies more often than expected or encounter costly repairs to that home that eat away at your profits? That's why filing for Social Security early is a move you might regret.
If you claim Social Security at age 62, you'll slash your monthly benefit by 25% to 30%, compared to what you would've collected had you waited until full retirement age to file. But if you don't rush to claim Social Security and instead wait until you're eligible for a higher benefit, that's money you are guaranteed to keep collecting. So cutting your one guaranteed income stream could mean making hard choices or struggling financially if your other income sources let you down.
In fact, not only can filing for Social Security early backfire on you, but you may even want to hold off on taking benefits beyond full retirement age. Delaying your filing could give you access to a higher monthly benefit — one that makes it much easier to cover your bills and takes the pressure off your savings and other investments.
Think carefully before you file
A lot of people rush into claiming Social Security because they're excited about the idea of finally getting their benefits. But before you do, think about what you might be giving up by taking benefits at age 62, or at any age before full retirement age. You may come to the realization that you're better off sitting tight for a while — and getting the peace of mind that comes with locking in a higher benefit you can look forward to for life.
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