A typical American, at least in the past, spent at least 45 years working and 20 years in retirement. Surveys show that more people are planning to work beyond previously-accepted retirement ages now. Sometimes that’s because they’ve lost a significant amount of the value they once had in their retirement assets.
Until we’re close to retiring, most of us are working too many hours to take much time to look that far ahead to get a good idea of what our retirement lifestyle might be. Hence, we don’t do a lot of planning. And, that can result in some unpleasant surprises.
Another reason some people have not taken a serious look at their prospects for retirement income is the “gloom-and-doom” rhetoric surrounding the sustainability of Social Security. Despite its predicted imminent collapse, the 2012 Trustees Report maintains Social Security would be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits even if the trust fund was drained.
So, what do your Social Security benefit prospects look like? You can begin drawing out your retirement benefits when you are age 62, but you won’t get 100 percent of your monthly benefit unless you wait until you are 66. That’s called your full retirement age.
If you delay taking your benefits for a year (age 67), your benefit grows to 108 percent. That increases for each year you delay until age 70. By that time, you’ll be entitled to 132 percent of the monthly benefit. That’s the latest age you can get an increase, so there’s no point in delaying taking your benefits after age 70.
While experts haggle over the benefit and risk of delaying taking your Social Security benefits, the truth is that we’re not great at predicting the future. The best you can do is understand how much delaying your benefits will increase them to make the best decision possible.