Your Social Security Advisor

Should I Take Social Security at 62? – Ask Rusty

social security administration portal benefits application disability benefits pension COLA benefit militaryDear Rusty:  My husband took an early retirement at age 62, and I will be turning 62 next year. I am having some health issues and I’m thinking about taking an early retirement. Is this a good idea?  Signed:  Uncertain what to do

Dear Uncertain:  That’s a difficult question to answer with so little information, but I’ll try to give you some pointers which may help you decide. In choosing when to start your Social Security benefits you should always look at several things, including how badly you need the money now, your current health and how long you expect to live. If you take your Social Security benefits when you are 62, the monthly amount you receive will be 27.5% lower than you would get at your full retirement age of 66 1/2. But if your current health issues mean that you must stop working and lose income you rely upon to make ends meet, then taking your benefits at age 62 will give you some badly needed financial relief. The fact is that Social Security was designed to pay about the same total amount of money whether you claim early or wait until your full retirement age. However, whether you actually get the same total amount in either case depends upon you living long enough to break even. Most analyses I’ve done reveal that if you wait and take your benefits at age 66 you’ll need to live until you are about 78 to collect the same amount of money you would have gotten if you claimed at age 62. If you live longer than your break-even age, you’ll have collected more in cumulative benefits by waiting until your full retirement age to apply. Another thing I suggest you consider is that by applying for Social Security benefits at age 62, you will be automatically deemed to be filing for both your own benefit and any spousal benefit you may be due from your husband’s record. A lower earning spouse is entitled to a “spousal boost” from the other spouse’s record, but only if that spousal benefit will be higher than they are entitled to on their own work record. At full retirement age (FRA) a lower earning spouse can get 50% of the higher earning spouse’s “primary insurance amount” (or “PIA”, what the 2nd spouse was entitled to at their FRA). But you only get that 50% if you have reached your full retirement age; if you take it earlier than that, for example at age 62, the spousal benefit will be cut to as little as 32.5% of the higher earning spouse’s FRA benefit amount. So, is it a good idea to take your Social Security benefits at age 62? Again, it depends upon your health, financial status and your expected longevity. If you apply early, your payments are smaller, but you get more of them; if you wait to apply your payments are larger but you get fewer of them. Unless, of course, you live to a ripe old age, in which case the larger monthly payment you get by waiting will undoubtedly come in handy when you’re older and your total cumulative benefits will be more. But all of that doesn’t matter if your current health and financial status mean you need the money now. It’s a choice only you can make.

And here are a couple of final thoughts: If you continue working while collecting early benefits you’ll be subject to Social Security’s annual earnings limit ($17,040 for 2018). But if your current health issues are severe enough that you can’t continue working, you may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If approved, SSDI benefits would be based upon your FRA benefit amount, resulting in a higher benefit at an earlier age. And you can file for both early retirement benefits and SSDI at the same time, which would allow you to collect benefits earlier while your SSDI application is being considered.

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at [email protected].




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4 years ago

Excellent response. most people don’t do the math. If I wait until 63, my SSA benefit will be 8% higher, but I will have forfeited $19,800 in benefit from age 62 to 63. It takes 12 years to recoup that forfeiture from my math–exactly as stated here. So, I wouldn’t makeup that forfeiture until 63+12=75. Since I also have a pension and several IRA’s, with no debts, I’ll be 61 in a few months and will retire early and draw pension and SS at 62. As the writer said, there are too many variables for a general rule.

Debra P.
4 years ago

Rusty, My husband was receiving SS when he died five years ago. I was 58 at the time and they told me I wouldn’t be eligible for widows benefits until I turned 60. However, they granted me disability benefits (which I didn’t even think about applying for, I just answered their questions) because I could barely walk much less work, due to arthritis in my hip and maybe the fact that I had no other income as his Navy pension died with him, I am now ready to turn 63 and am wondering if I have to chose between disability or regular SS benefits or am I eligible for both, the disability being mine and the survivor’s benefits being from my husband? I am pretty sure the survivors benefits would be a little more, especially if I wait until I am 66. What is the best way to figure it out, the local office is always jammed with people. Is it better to phone or just fill out stuff online? Or just take a book with me to their office and plan to spend the day?

4 years ago
Reply to  Debra P.

If you make an appointment they take you much faster. The crowded waiting room is usually people without appointments waiting. They recommend you make an appointment to apply for widow’s benefits. They will answer all your questions, plus print you out a benefit matrix so you can calculate with them. Much better to go in person, and it should not take all day.

4 years ago

I retired at 62 and do not regret it one bit. It was either that or kill my supervisor! (LOL) Seriously, my wife still works and her employer supplies my healthcare needs. We live beneath our means. We’re not wealthy, but we are comfortable. It wasn’t luck or magic that made it possible. It took many years of hard work, saving and planning that put me in position to retire early.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jerry

I had the same problem. I decided that it was time to retire or get a different job at 61. I looked at my finances and decided I had enough in my IRAs to do it. Best decision I ever made. I’ve enjoyed the last 11 years immensely. The trick is to have money in savings. Live on less than you make and bank the rest.

4 years ago

I am sixty years old i want to retire at age 62

Priscilla Burden
4 years ago

I say take it as soon as you can. Otherwise the politicians will spend it and you will die before you even collect anything.

Sue M.
4 years ago

Untrue. Even in 2034, Social Security will still be able to pay about 79% of projected benefits with no changes to the current system. (Read the annual Social Security statements you receive by mail or online.) Not taking mine a day before full retirement age at 66 and will wait until age 67 if at all possible. The difference from 62 to 66 (which has already passed) will be about $500/month more on my work record (not my husband’s). By waiting until 67, it goes up another $160/month. Already collecting about $24K in pensions and have another nice chunk of change in rollover IRA money from 401k/403b funds and a paid-up condo. So have advantages that others don’t, which obviously influence the decision.

4 years ago

Lots of friends and family remembered died before collecting a penny of SS they paid blood tears and sweat into. I think everyone should be forced to work until F.R.A. as I write this from my position as a gentleman of leisure drawing revenue from various accounts with an income stream exceeding my needs and lifestyle requirements. Especially if they suffer from a medical condition and have easy work like loading cement bags from the back of a truck onto the loading dock platform about 2 or 3 feet higher than the truck bed while the diesel motor idles, inhaling the sweet fumes, have to save the planet you know from the excess fuel expenditure of a cold start up. Be seeing you on the beach hanging with Jimmy Buffett or sipping latte at the coffee house discussing how !>tRUMP<! has ruined everything by putting 'merica first and delivering on his promises in defiance of the Elites.

Ronald Rice
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard

elect more democrats and they will repeal the tax-cut plus find new kind of tax to lay on us.

Dave Fiebig
4 years ago

Wow. Twelve years is a long time to break even. At 62, what are the odds I will make it to 74? I think I will take the money now. Remember a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The only thing I don’t understand is why would I ever want a bird in my hand? It’s gross and will probably crap in my hand.

Dan W.
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave Fiebig

If you need the money at age 62, take it. Otherwise, wait. You can always jump in at any time prior to age 70 if your circumstances change.

Who knows, you might live to be 80 having used up all of your other sources of income. In that case, you would want the biggest monthly check possible from Social Security.

Rita Sutton
4 years ago

1976 I Got laughed out of a canidate forum because I thought the ages should go up drastically for retirement. When the ages were set people did mot live much past 68. Now you get what we and employers paid in plus what others pay in before we die. Financially breaking the soc sec funds at this rate. It is a retirement insurance not a total retirement fund.

Sue M.
4 years ago
Reply to  Rita Sutton

Full retirement is already 66 for people born from 1943 to 1954. It goes up 2 months/year from for people born 1955 to 1960, until it tops out at 67. Phasing in a full retirement age of 68 might be OK for people 45 or younger so they still have to plan for it, but then the early retirement age should rise to 63. It *may* be easy to work until 67 or 68 if one has a white-collar job, but what about people who are on their feet all day and don’t make a lot of money? They are also very unlikely to have traditional pensions (very few of us do these days) or have the extra money to contribute to 401k accounts.

Rebecca Kiperts
4 years ago

Social security wouldn’t be in such bad shape if President Trump hadn’t passed the incredibly short-sighted so-called tax relief bill, which only benefitted the rich.

4 years ago

Wow. I didn’t know I was rich.

D. E. Day
4 years ago

That is a poorly thought out response. The tax bill has nothing to do with how much Social Security is collected from a wage earner. The amount collected is based on pre-tax pay. It amounts to approximately 13% of gross income per pay period; 6.5% from the employee and the same amount from the employer. If you are self-employed you pay both portions. I can attest that the tax-cut increased my retirement income from other than social security increased by approximately $200 per month. I was glad to get it and I am not rich.

4 years ago

S.S wouldn’t be in such bad shape if the DemocRATS had not raided it and given to those who had not payed into it.

Sue M.
4 years ago

They don’t have a lot of relationship to each other, but…Trump has threatened to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare. And his tax cuts are among the most regressive in recent history. Percentage-wise, most of the cuts go to the wealthiest. They also blow a huge whole in the national debt and budget deficit. All responsible citizens should call him on this. And demand that he and Ms. Trump release their tax returns as all presidents have been willing to do.

4 years ago

I make $60k per year and my paycheck increased $135 per month.
I paid my Winter property taxes with that money.
I’m not wealthy whatsoever.
Those extra “crumbs” to Pelosi (worth $30 million) are my only birthday present.
Thank you President Trump!

Maria Rose
4 years ago

These questions asking about taking benefits at 62 versus waiting until FRA all come down to one thing. That is consideration of your financial situation at that age against your longevity and whether you are still able to postpone taking the benefits by continuing to work at least until full FRA without major physical harm to health.
That is only if you have the choice to continue working without the job terminating employment and forcing you to retire.

Billy J Haffly
4 years ago

Dear Rusty,
I’m currently on Social Security Disability, I turn 62 in Nov 2018. My question is do I need to contact Social Security prior to Nov to apply for Social Security or is everything already set up?

4 years ago
Reply to  Billy J Haffly

Billy, if you’re now collecting SSDI (SS disability) benefits, you do not need to do anything when you turn 62. Your SSDI benefit will continue automatically until you reach your full retirement age (FRA), which for you is 66 + 4 months, at which time you will be automatically switched to your SS retirement benefit at the same amount.

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