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Personal Finance

Invest Social Security Benefits?


Dear Dr. Don,
I will be 62 soon. Should I take my Social Security retirement benefits and invest them if I don't need them to live on?
-- Gerri Gains

Dear Gerri,
If you don't need the benefits to live on, then I'd recommend waiting at least until your full retirement age to start getting the benefits. Starting to receive your retirement benefits when you're 62 will reduce your benefits by 25%. The reduction in benefits depends on the year of your birth, which determines your full retirement age. The Social Security Web page, "Effect of Early or Delayed Retirement on Retirement Benefits," provides a chart showing the reductions.

Since you don't need the money to live on you could even consider waiting until age 70 to start receiving retirement benefits. That would increase your annual benefits by 32%. The Web page referenced in the preceding paragraph also shows how delayed retirement increases annual benefits for different birth years.

If you're trying to maximize the amount of money you receive from Social Security over time, it's so dependent on how long you live that there's not a rule of thumb to help you with that decision. The Social Security Web page, "Plan Your Retirement," walks you through the big picture and has links to benefit calculators and other resources.

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