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Maximizing Benefits: Can You Afford to Wait For Social Security?

Many Illinoisans miss out on tens of thousands of dollars by claiming Social Security benefits early, according to new data. Credit: finance/morguefile
Many Illinoisans miss out on tens of thousands of dollars by claiming Social Security benefits early, according to new data. Credit: finance/morguefile
November 16, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - You've been paying into the system your whole working life, but deciding when to begin claiming Social Security benefits is a complex decision that experts say needs careful consideration.

According to the most recent data, 62 remains the most prevalent age people choose to begin receiving Social Security.

Kristen Arnold, income security policy analyst with the National Academy for Social Insurance, says that might be the right choice for those struggling with health issues or without other sources of income. But she says for those who can afford to wait, there is a big payoff.

"If you're working, you don't have to take Social Security," says Arnold. "You can wait, and for each year you wait, your monthly benefits increase by eight percent, and that monthly increase in benefits lasts for as long as you live."

According to the Social Security Administration, more than 72 percent of Social Security beneficiaries in Illinois have reduced monthly benefits because they claimed benefits early.

Arnold says it's important to think through all the factors and, when possible, to consult a qualified financial planner. She adds waiting is not the right decision for everyone.

"If you have poor health, if you need to stop working to care for a sick family member, if you lose your job or if you have a physically demanding job and you need to quit working and take benefits to make ends meet, Social Security is there for you," says Arnold. "You should take the benefits."

With the future of Social Security a hotly-debated topic during this election season, Arnold says it is important to remember that the program is fully financed for the next 15 to 20 years, and 75 percent financed beyond that.

A toolkit to help decide the best time to start receiving Social Security can be found at www.nasi.org.



Mona Shand, Public News Service - IL