Dear Liz: I started Social Security at 62 and did the spreadsheet myself showing the break-even point. I would have to be 80 before the graphs even cross.
You, and others, have to stop that business about waiting on Social Security if you can. My own mother lived to 90 and it is about quality of life, not collecting lots from the government.
Answer: Exactly. And since you have longevity in the family, you especially should have paid better attention to the message about the importance of delaying benefits.
If your mother started benefits at 62, or ended up living on a survivor’s benefit from a husband who started early, then her checks were 30% to 50% smaller than they could have been. That difference can be especially crucial in a person’s later years, when she’s far more likely to have outlived her other assets and need the additional money.
Remember that the decision to claim Social Security is separate from the decision to retire. People can retire early and draw from other accounts while putting off Social Security to maximize their checks.
Most people who try to do the math on spreadsheets fail to factor in the effects of inflation and taxes, among other factors.
You can get better calculations from one of the free calculators, such as the ones at AARP and T. Rowe Price. You can find a more robust calculator for about $40 at MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com and SocialSecurityChoices.com.
Another option is to read the recent bestseller published by Simon & Schuster: “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.”