Deciding When To Initiate Social Security Benefits

Allen Atkins, Craig Bain
2010 Journal of Business & Economics Research  
<p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0.5in 0pt; mso-pagination: none;"><span style="color: black; font-size: 10pt; mso-themecolor: text1;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;">People nearing retirement face a well-known decision: When should to begin taking social security benefits? The answer may not seem obvious since there are key trade-offs involved. The retiree can choose low benefits for a longer period of time, or high benefits for a shorter period of time,
more » ... or something in between.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The optimal initiation date that maximizes social security wealth is a quantitative question and it depends on the life expectancy of the person and on the real rate of return they expect to earn on their investments, among other things. We attempt to provide some answers to this practical and important question.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Our focus throughout is on relatively high-wealth individuals who will receive the maximum social security benefits.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>We show how the government&rsquo;s social security benefit calculator can be very misleading. We also include how the decision may be different for a married couple.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>We conclude with the following rough guideline.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>If you expect to make a good return on your investments, you should take the benefits early (i.e. at age 62).<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>If you expect to make modest investment returns and you expect to live a long time, you should take the benefits later, (i.e. at age 70).</span></span></p>
doi:10.19030/jber.v8i4.711 fatcat:l4j4e6kgzbbvfaurzvylu74vmm