Many people take Social Security too soon because of many different reasons. If you can structure your retirement just a bit differently, delaying Social Security leads to higher benefits once you do start.
For some, delaying is not an option because they didn’t save enough for retirement to begin with – and thus Social Security becomes the safety net as it was designed. Premature disability, injury or job loss before retirement often leads to tapping retirement resources sooner than planned.
One method for early resource use is to use retirement savings to “bridge” the gap you would have received from Social Security for those few years until your Social Security benefit is higher. The concept here is that you use some retirement resources early for a few years, and those get replaced by the higher Social Security benefit for a much longer period of time – a period more and more people are likely to live beyond because we are living longer.
Both of the short blogs below illustrate how delaying pays off in the long run. I encourage you to read them. You don’t need to get bogged down in detail … your goal is to grasp the concept that there are alternative options instead of grabbing Social Security money as soon as you can. Often, that is not in your long term interest. For couples, the higher survivor benefit that results from delaying when benefits start may be crucial. And divorcees may also improve their lifelong benefits through proper strategy and claiming design. Your future self will be glad you delayed, regardless of current status.
Delaying Social Security: What an Investment! by Wade Pfau
PS. If you’ve already started Social Security benefits, and feel like that may have been in error, you can stop your benefits after reaching Full Retirement Age and then restart the benefits later – at a higher benefit amount!