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Three Reasons to Take Social Security Early

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The experts typically say that you’re better off waiting. But that isn’t always the case.

One financial planner says he has had clients claim Social Security early to fund long-term-care insurance. Illustration: Kiersten Essenpreis

Conventional wisdom holds that retirees are financially better off delaying their Social Security benefits to get a fatter payout. But for some people, not delaying—or even claiming before full retirement age—makes sense.

You can receive your full benefit once you reach full retirement age—around 66 or 67, depending on what year you were born. People who wait until 70 get an additional 8% annually, says Tim Steffen, director of advanced planning at Baird, a private wealth manager based in Milwaukee. You can also start as early as 62, but that means a much smaller payout. The math is complex on how big the haircut is, but it can be roughly 30% annually for people who start at 62, versus waiting for full retirement age to receive full benefits.

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