Why Claiming Social Security at 62 Could Be a Terrible Choice if You’re Married

Being married often means making compromises and sacrifices. You might be a city person at heart. But if your spouse loves the country, you might end up settling down in a rural or suburban area to make your life partner happy.

Just as you might have to tweak your plans to live harmoniously with your spouse during your working years, so too might you have to make adjustments to retirement-related plans. And one area where you may have to make some changes is Social Security.

You may be eager to claim your benefits as soon as you possibly can. That way, you’ll get to enjoy your paydays at a younger age and perhaps achieve goals you may have put off when money was tight, time was limited, or your spouse simply wasn’t on board. But while it’s easy to see why filing for Social Security early is a choice that might appeal to you, it’s one that could backfire as far as your spouse is concerned.

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Be careful when claiming Social Security at 62

Age 62 is the earliest age you can sign up for Social Security. As such, it’s become a very popular age to file for benefits.

But while the upside of claiming Social Security at 62 is evident — getting your money at a younger age — the downside is slashing your monthly payments for life. That’s because you’re not entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history until full retirement age kicks in, and that won’t happen until age 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on your year of birth.

You might make your peace with a lower monthly Social Security benefit, especially if it buys you the option to do the things you’ve always dreamed of. But you’ll need to be careful about claiming benefits early if you have a spouse to worry about. This especially holds true if your spouse is a lot younger than you or if your spouse earned a lot less money than you during their career.

Once you pass away, your spouse will be entitled to survivors benefits. If they wait until their full retirement age to sign up, they’ll get 100% of your monthly benefit paid to them. If you claim Social Security at age 62, or at any age before full retirement age, your spouse will be left with less money to live on — for life.

If you managed to build a large nest egg and have a giant life insurance policy your spouse can collect on, you may not have to worry as much about leaving your spouse with a lower survivors benefit. But if that’s not the case, you may want to think twice before signing up for Social Security as early as you can.

Make it a joint decision

It’s important to consider your spouse’s needs when filing for Social Security. But it’s equally important to discuss big decisions, like signing up for benefits, together. That way, you can get on the same page and take action in a way that works for both of you.

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