July 20, 2016 — The decision on when to start taking your Social Security retirement benefits is a very personal matter. Our members report a wide range of answers – from “as soon as I can” to “waiting until the maximum age of 70”. This article will give some highlights from a recent survey by Nationwide Insurance on how 50+ adults feel about those Social Security decisions, particularly after they have made them.
The Nationwide Retirement Institute Consumer Social Security PR Study polled 3 different groups: people who have been retired 10 years, those who have just retired, and those 50+ who will retire in the future. The study is loaded with interesting data and shows how the 3 groups differ on a number of questions:
– What age they started Social Security benefits
– What prompted their decisions
– Whether they would rethink their decision
– Amount of benefit expected vs. received
– How they calculated their expected benefits
– Expected expenses in retirement
– Best and worst about retirement
One quarter would like a do-over on when they started taking SS
Comparing recent retirees to those who have been retired for 10 or more years, more of the recents (23%) would delay the start of their Social Security benefits if they could, than those retired for 10 years or more (13%). Although neither represents a large group, it does indicate understanding of how their benefit increases the longer they wait, up to age 70.
Practical reasons for taking Social Security early
Practical reasons dominate for why retirees opt for the earliest possible benefit (62). Those include early retirement, needing the money, and health problems, among many others.
Future and recent retirees more likely to delay
Virtually all of the people who have been retired for 10+ years are collecting Social Security, and they started taking it early – age 61 (the mean is younger than minimum retirement collection age of 62, probably because of payments to survivors). Most recent retirees started receiving benefits at age 62, although a small number (14%) is not yet collecting. But the picture is much different when the group of future retirees is considered – 78% say they intend to wait to age 66 to start receiving their benefits.
Expected Benefits vs. Actual Benefits
About one quarter of Recent Retirees (24%) say their SS payment is less/much less than expected. This compares to 33% of those who have been retired for 10 years or more.
Sources of Benefit Estimates
People rely on a variety of sources to estimate their future Social Security benefits. Currently retired folks tend to rely more on the Social Security Administration for information, while future retirees are more likely to use online calculators.
The full report is laden with information about how people feel about their retirement, expected expenses, other sources of income, etc. For example, the best thing about retirement tends to be “no more working”, and the worst thing is (lack of) income.
Comments please. Share your experience with taking Social Security benefits. Have you already started, or waiting? What age will you begin receiving? What will determine your decision. Let us know in the Comments section below.