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No one knows how long they will live and so to be on the safe side experts agree that when planning for retirement, you should plan for a long life expectancy. Many of us will live much longer than the “average” retiree.
Generally, women tend to live longer than men. About one out of every four 65-year-old today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95. Social Security benefits provide valuable protection against outliving savings and other sources of retirement income, but were never intended to provide all the money needed for a secure retirement.
If in your lifetime you have worked for ten years, you are eligible to place a claim to begin receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70 and any year in between. Deciding when is best for you is a personal decision.
If you were born before 1938, you were considered to be of full retirement age on your sixty-fifth birthday and as such you were eligible for your full Social Security benefit at that time. All of those born after 1938 have been affected by a change in the benefits plan which delays their achievement of full retirement age and consequently they are eligible for full benefits sometime after their sixty-fifth birthday. The table to the left provides further information.
Social Security benefits are generally lower the earlier you place your claim. The initial payment will set the standard for ongoing payments, though you typically will receive cost of living increases from year-to-year. Social Security benefits continue until death.
Factors to consider when determining when to place a claim:
Regardless of when you decide to apply for Social Security benefits, be sure to sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65. Otherwise, your Medicare medical insurance, as well as prescription drug coverage, could be delayed, and you could be charged higher premiums.
Use the Retirement Estimator to get an estimate of future Social Security payments that are based on your actual Social Security earnings record. Retirement estimates are just that - estimates. They will vary slightly from the actual benefit you may receive in the future.
Learn more about the current annual and monthly earning limits and how earnings affect your retirement benefits, by reading How Work Affects Your Benefits (Publication No. 05-10069).
Call the Social Security office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778) if you have more questions.
Use this retirement calculator to determine the savings you will need to retire comfortably.