Two out of five regret taking Social Security early

Sad lonely pensive old senior womanA substantial number of people file for Social Security benefits as soon as they’re eligible. Many live to regret their decision.

Two out of five early retirees wish they had waited, according to a recent survey by the Nationwide Financial Retirement Institute, an arm of Nationwide Mutual Insurance. Here’s why, according to an article in the AARP Bulletin:

When you look at the differences in their monthly payout, you can understand their remorse. Those who took their benefit early report an average monthly payment of $1,190. Those who collected it at their full retirement age have an average $1,506 monthly payment. And those who delayed collecting their benefit report an average monthly payment of $1,924 (or $734 more than the early payout). The difference between the lowest and the highest monthly checks over 20 years comes to a whopping $176,160.

I suspect the longer folks live, the more they’re likely to regret rushing to grab their benefits. And this is an especially critical issue for women, since we tend to live longer and often have smaller Social Security benefits than men.

Financial advisors typically understand the huge potential benefits of waiting a few years to start Social Security checks, and many recommending tapping other resources, including retirement funds, if that’s the only way to delay. But many people apply for Social Security without ever checking in with an advisor. Many rely on friends and family for advice–not the best course with something as complicated as Social Security claiming strategies. The worst reason for starting early? The unfounded fear that Social Security will “go away” if they don’t grab their checks now. That can be a costly misconception.

I have a lot of posts on this blog that can help you make better claiming decisions; just type “Social Security” into the search box above. Here’s a link to one post that has important information, as well as links to recent research that underscores the importance of waiting to claim.