What's the best age to take Social Security?

How long you expect to live is a particularly important factor in determining how to get the most out of Social Security by maximizing the dollars you are paid.  Usually, the longer you think you'll live, the more it makes sense to wait until full retirement age to take benefits.

Use the optimizer below to get a quick indication of how to maximize your benefits based on how long you expect to live. 

How long you expect to live, gives a rough estimate of how to maximize your social security.  But there are other other considerations based on your family situation, financial situation, and risk tolerance.  Harbor's free Retirement Planner helps you estimate and optimize your Social Security in more detail.  Give it a try.

Other considerations and special situations

The rule of thumb doesn't always apply. For instance, if you are low on savings and need the money, you may want to take Social Security earlier.  Or if you are divorced, widowed, or have dependent parents or children, you may be eligible for other benefits. 

There are also several strategies for married couples that could result in thousands dollars of additional payments a year, such as:

  • File & Suspend:  A way to allow one spouse to begin taking Spousal Benefits, while the other delays for bigger payouts
  • Claim now, claim more later:  A way to take Spousal Benefits today while waiting to claim your larger, individual benefit later
  • File & Suspend + Claim now, claim more later:  A way to begin Spousal Benefits for one spouse today, with both spouses waiting until later to begin taking their larger, individual benefit payouts

If you'd like to optimize your Social Security based on your lifestyle, your family situation, and your specific financial situations, give our free planner a try.

Why how long you live is important

As a rule of thumb, if you think you'll live at least until 80, you'll probably want to take Social Security on or after full retirement age (67 for most people).  Otherwise, you'll probably want to take Social Security before full retirement age

If you take payments at a younger age you may get a few extra years of payments, but your payments will be lower.  If you take payments later, you'll miss out on a few years of payments, but you'll get more with every Social Security check.  Eventually, if you live long enough, a fewer large checks becomes a greater total of money paid to you than more small checks.  


If you want to get a more accurate picture of your Social Security estimate and optimize a Social Security strategy for your unique situation,  so you don't leave $1,000's of dollars on the table, try Harbor's Planner for free.