Social Security: When Should You File for Benefits?

Retirement is one of the biggest transitions of your lifetime. Like any significant change, it comes with many important decisions. Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make in retirement is when to file for Social Security.

You’ve probably paid into the system your entire working career. It’s understandable that you may want to file as soon as possible to take immediate advantage of Social Security’s guaranteed monthly income payments. There’s good reason to delay your filing, however, as the longer you wait, the higher your benefit will likely be.

Deciding when to file is a tricky dilemma for many retirees. There’s no universal right or wrong answer. Whether you file early or late, each option has its pros and cons. The appropriate answer depends on your unique financial situation.

The important thing to remember is that once you file, you can’t change your mind. Your filing decision is permanent.

Below are a few things to think about as you decide when to file for Social Security:



The most important question you can ask yourself is if you really need the money. If you are truly in a desperate situation and Social Security is your only option, it may make sense to file as soon as possible. For example, you may have been forced into early retirement because of a layoff or disability, and Social Security may help you preserve your retirement savings.

If you don’t have an immediate need for the money, however, it can be very advantageous to delay filing as long as possible. In fact, the Social Security Administration reports that for every year past your full retirement age (FRA) that you wait to file, you’ll receive an 8 percent increase in monthly benefits.1 The maximum age at which you can file is 70. So if your FRA is 66 and you wait until age 70 to file, you can receive a 32 percent permanent increase in your monthly benefits.



Obviously, delaying your filing will provide the highest monthly benefit. However, if you don’t believe you’ll live long enough to enjoy these benefits for more than a few years, it’s hard to justify putting off filing until the age of 70. For instance, if you have a chronic long-term health issue that could shorten your life, or if you have a family history of terminal illness, you may want to think about filing early so you can receive benefits for as many years as possible.

However, don’t put too much stock into family history. With all the advancements in medical science and technology, people are living longer than ever. Just because your parents or grandparents died early in retirement doesn’t necessarily mean you will, too.


Spousal Benefits

Social Security offers what are known as “spousal benefits” for married individuals who’ve earned less than their partners during their working years. This option can affect the timing of when you file to maximize your benefits.

For instance, you could file as soon as possible while your spouse delays filing. During this period, you could collect your individual benefits. Then, when your spouse files, you might switch to spousal benefits. The spousal benefit option gives you and your spouse the flexibility to start receiving some level of benefits today while also taking advantage of the delay credits.

Ready to plan your Social Security strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us at TB Financial for more information. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon.




The material is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The insurance agent can provide information, but not advice related to social security benefits. Clients should seek guidance from the Social Security Administration regarding their particular situation. The insurance agent may be able to identify potential retirement income gaps and may introduce insurance products, such as an annuity, as a potential solution. Social Security benefit payout rates can and will change at the sole discretion of the Social Security Administration. For more information, please consult a local Social Security Administration office, or visit

This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.

16440 – 2017/2/15

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