Social Insecurity

Jonathan Clements  |  October 21, 2015

SOCIAL SECURITY retirement benefits may eventually get cut. But it shouldn’t influence when today’s retirees claim benefits.

I have argued frequently that it makes sense to delay Social Security, especially if you’re the family’s main breadwinner. By postponing benefits from age 62 to age 70, you can lock in a lifetime stream of inflation-indexed income that’s 76% or 77% larger. That income stream could salvage your retirement if you outlive your nest egg, while also providing a handsome survivor benefit to your spouse, assuming you’re married and you predecease your husband or wife.

But many folks disagree, in part because they figure they should get every dollar they can before the politicians slash benefits. Yet this doesn’t appear to be a risk: Even Republican presidential candidates, who have addressed the thorny issue of how to fund Social Security, aren’t proposing to shrink the monthly checks of existing retirees.

For instance, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed raising the Social Security retirement age starting in 2022, which means it would affect those currently age 55 and younger. Similarly, Senator Marco Rubio wants to raise the retirement age, but he says he’d like to do so without affecting those currently over age 55. The implication: Today’s retirees shouldn’t rush to claim Social Security, because they fear their benefits are on the chopping block.

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