The Most Important Social Security Chart You’ll Ever See

Making decisions about Social Security can be complicated. This chart can help you make the right choices. It provides crucial insight into the amount of income your Social Security checks will provide to you depending on the age when you claim benefits.

This chart is important, because your monthly payment can change by hundreds of dollars depending on when you get your first Social Security check. You need to understand how your filing age affects the money you’ll have as a retiree.

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This important Social Security chart can help you decide when to start your checks

The chart below shows the amount of monthly income you would receive from Social Security depending on when you file for retirement benefits. It assumes your full retirement age (the age when you get your standard benefit) is 67. Your own FRA is dependent on your birth year. It also assumes your standard benefit at FRA would be $1,600. Your actual standard benefit is based on a percentage of your average earnings over time.

Source: Social Security Administration. Table Created by Author.

As you can see, the longer you wait to start your monthly Social Security check, the higher the monthly benefit you will end up receiving. In fact, if you delay a full eight years and wait until 70 instead of first filing at 62, you would end up with about $864 dollars — or 77% — more every single month from Social Security.

Now, the exact specifics will be determined based on your own standard benefit amount — but you will see your income increase if you put off claiming your monthly payments.

Should you always delay until age 70?

Based on this chart, your first thought might be that you should definitely wait until 70 to claim your benefit. After all, who doesn’t want hundreds of dollars extra every month as a senior.

But don’t forget, if you delay until 70, you give up many years of potential payments. You have to get a lot of higher checks to make up for the tens of thousands of dollars in income you gave up.

Sadly, not everyone who delays their Social Security benefits claim lives long enough to break even for all those payments they missed. If you finally claim Social Security at 70 and only live a year, the extra $864 a month would net you around $10,368 more than if you’d claimed Social Security at 62. But you’d have forgone eight years of receiving a $1,120 monthly benefit. Trading $107,520 for an extra $10,368 isn’t a good move.

Ultimately, you have to seriously consider your life expectancy to best estimate if you’re going to break even delaying your benefits. If you have a clean bill of health and a strong family history, the odds may be on your side. But if you’re expecting major health complications (or already managing them), an early claim could be the better option for you. In this latter case, however, you should still evaluate how your decision could affect your spouse, since your early claim could reduce their survivors benefits if you were the higher earner.

The reality is that claiming Social Security is a complicated choice, and you need to take the time to think about how your age at filing will affect your retirement income. The chart above can give you an idea of how this could play out so you can make a more informed decision.

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