SSI – Claiming age 62 or later, What Does It Cost You?

Maybe a minute now will give you an 8% return per year in retirement?

Life and Economics are full of choices. Here’s one, “when should you claim Social Security?” As early as age 62, or as late as age 70? The research article reviewed here has many detailed tips but here are the basics.

The optimal claiming decision in the research “minimizes the risk that the individual will exhaust his or her retirement savings and be forced at some point to limit consumption to what is provided by Social Security.”

When to Claim?

  1. Claiming late can add as much as 10 years to the life of the retirement
    nest egg. (Meyer and Reichenstein, 2012)
  2. Claiming early (age 62) was optimal for those with low incomes and retirement savings of less than $300,000.
  3. Claiming later, or delaying the start of Social Security benefits, was better for wealthier households with retirement savings greater than $700,000.

Basic Research Assumptions:

Assumed the Maximum Social Security Income possible, retiree paid into the system for 35 years, has a life expectancy with a 50% chance for men to obtain age 85, and age 88 for women and income earnings before retirement (2016) was the maximum of $118,500. Plus, savings at retirement was between a $100,000 and $3,000,000; the 90th percentile was reported as $718,000. In case you’re wondering this range represents 95% of Americans with retirement savings. It does not include those with pensions or those without savings at all.

Monthly Income Assumed To Be:

In this study, monthly income works out to be the amount social security pays you plus equal payments from your retirement savings over your expected lifetime. There’s no negative spending available in retirement.

Let’s Try a Scenario:

Let’s use a made-up scenario. If you’re married, and you and your spouse claim SS at age 62 and you earned the average household income of $70,000 your SSI should be about $3500/month combined, plus $1,700 from savings. That means you would live on $5,200/month for the remainder of your life and you would expect your savings to last to age 85 for men, and age 88 for women. If returns are better than 4% over all and inflation remains at under 3% then your retirement savings will provide income beyond Social Security beyond the average age of death for men 85, women 88.

This assumes you have at retirement $500,000 in retirement, and you take 1/25th each year, the math looks like this ($500,000/25 years / 12 months = $1700/ month).

Don’t know How SSI works?

Social Security Basics, The dollar amount of the retirement benefit available from Social Security is a function of career earning history and the age at which benefits are claimed. The current full retirement age is 66 ($2,639/month) and benefits may be claimed as early as age 62 ($2,102). A benefit reduction is assessed in relation to the full retirement age amount for each month that benefits are claimed prior to attainment of age 66.

Deferred claiming credits increase the benefit for each month that claiming occurs after age 66. An individual claiming at the earliest possible time (age 62) will receive an annual benefit that is 25 percent lower than the full retirement age (66) amount. Claiming at age 70 ($3,576) when the deferred credit stops accruing results in a benefit increase of 32 percent. The authors show how this represents an 8% return for waiting from age 62 to 70 for married couples.

Married individuals are eligible for the greater of the spousal benefit or the
benefit attributable to their own career earnings. Upon the death of a spouse, a married individual is entitled to the entire benefit earned by the spouse, if it is higher. Delayed claiming is therefore equivalent to purchasing a deferred joint and survivor life annuity, with the higher deferred benefit purchased by relinquishing near-term benefits.

Reference the Research here:

Much of the reference for this post comes from this research article, “Does the Benefit of Deferring Social Security Offset the Opportunity Cost to Do So?” by Michael J. Alderson, Ph.D.; and Brian L. Betker, Ph.D., Journal of Financial Planning, September 2017; This article found in the 2018 ISCEBS Fellowship Study Materials, here.

Annuities, also labeled personal pension, longevity insurance, or retirement risk transfer, should be considered in specific circumstances to guarantee income. They also propose other techniques to preserve assets for the remainder of life. The research is detailed, but it comes up short describing more about the value of annuities to protect from living beyond average age. I’ll see if I can find an article on that topic.

As a Benefits Specialist, I follow retirement topics in order to help you with choices you have while you’re planning for retirement or are in retirement.