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When to Take Your Social Security: 62 or Wait?

Wait, if you can, before taking your monthly Social Security benefit. That's the advice from the National Academy of Social Insurance. Credit Greg Stotelmyer
Wait, if you can, before taking your monthly Social Security benefit. That's the advice from the National Academy of Social Insurance. Credit Greg Stotelmyer
November 16, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Social Security has been around since 1935, making it 80 years old. How old do you think you will be when you begin taking the federal insurance you've been paying into?

You're eligible at 62, but the National Academy of Social Insurance says if you can afford to wait, do it, because you stand to gain more in the long run. Kristen Arnold is an income security policy analyst with the Academy.

"The benefits are there to make sure you're not in poverty in old age," says Arnold. "But if you have some flexibility, if you have other sources of income, if you're still working, if you're still healthy, you might consider waiting to take benefits."

According to the Social Security Administration, 72 percent of those eligible in Kentucky take their monthly benefit early. You have to be 66 to receive full benefits, and if you wait until you're 70 you take in 132 percent of your monthly benefit for the rest of your life.

But, Arnold acknowledges, not everyone can wait.

"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."

The National Academy of Social Insurance has a toolkit on its website at www.nasi.org which can help you decide when to start getting a Social Security check.

With America heading into a presidential election year, the future look of Social Security is sure to be one of the hot topics. Arnold says the federal insurance program's finances are much stronger than many people think.

"Lawmakers have many options to fix the Social Security funding shortfall, and Social Security is fully financed for the next 15 to 20 years, and about 75 percent fully financed after that," she says.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY