The Age Most Americans Are Claiming Social Security Benefits



Do you know the best age to claim you federal retirement benefits? A recent report says most older Americans don’t claim Social Security at the point they could get the most out of it.

The data comes from an economic brief from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for societal solutions on both sides of the political spectrum.

Here are two key findings from the report:

  • More than half of U.S. households headed by someone over age 65 rely on Social Security benefits for most of their income.
  • More than 70% of older Americans today claim Social Security before the age of 64, even though only 6.5% of them gain financially by doing so.

Keep reading to see what happens if you claim Social Security too early.

When Do Most Older Americans Claim Social Security?

Most Americans claim Social Security at the age of 62. However, the report also says it’s more financially beneficial to wait to claim Social Security until age 70, and money expert Clark Howard wholeheartedly agrees.

“The largest percent of people Social Security-eligible start taking Social Security at 62 than any other age,” Clark says. “Almost no one, from a financial standpoint, should take Social Security at age 62.”

The good news, according to the report, is that in recent years more Americans are waiting later in life to claim their Social Security.

You may be wondering how much you would get each month depending on when you start taking your benefits. The table below from the Bipartisan Policy Center illustrates the financial outlook for a worker who is eligible to receive $1,000 per month at a full retirement age of 67.

Monthly Benefits Based on Social Security Claiming Age

If Benefits Are Claimed At This Age Projected Monthly Amount
62 $700
63 $750
64 $800
65 $867
66 $933
67 (Full Retirement Age) $1,000
68 $1,080
69 $1,160
70 $1,240

As the Bipartisan Policy Center points out, by claiming Social Security at age 62 (and not waiting until 70), the monthly benefit is 44% less.

Read the Bipartisan Policy Center’s full brief.

Clark’s View: The Right Age to Claim Social Security Benefits

Clark recently turned 65 years old, which is around retirement age. Clark says he’s planning to wait until age 70 to collect Social Security.

If you’re in a position to, here’s why he thinks you should, too.

“Every year that you wait, you get an additional 8% in your check. And once you start taking it, every increase is based on the base that you started at. So you end up with a lot more money to live on later in life if you wait to take Social Security.”

Final Thought

Clark says if you’re still employed, delaying retirement can really make a difference for your wallet in the years ahead. And he also has a strong recommendation about where to focus your money in the last few years you’re working. 

“I feel so strongly about getting to a point where you’re financially secure in retirement that even if it means you delay retirement by a couple of years so that you can single-mindedly pay off your mortgage, I think it’s worth it. So, instead of retiring at 65, it’s OK to do it at 67 just so you don’t have to worry anymore about paying for that mortgage.”

Want more information about when to claim your benefits? Learn more here.

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