To answer this question requires a lot of personal information and an understanding of your goals in order to maximize the potential benefits to be paid out over your lifetime.

First of all, are you married? To make sure you get the optimal payout you need to coordinate filing for benefits with your spouse. You may have the option of using your spouse’s earnings record to claim benefits or your own depending on your age when you file. There are a lot of options here based on age differences of spouses, prior earnings records, and personal preferences.

Secondly, do you plan to continue working while receiving benefits? If you file for benefits before you reach full retirement age not only are your benefits going to be less than at full retirement, but if you have too much earned income in any year before you reach full retirement age your benefits will be reduced. The 2015 maximum you can earn from wages or self-employment is $15,720. If you delay receiving benefits after you reach full retirement age the amount you will receive when you finally draw benefits will increase 8% for every year you wait.

Third, do you have other retirement or investment income to use? Having other funds to use while waiting to file for social security can give you more flexibility and choices.

As you can quickly see, there are numerous options that need to be considered before you file for social security benefits. You need to coordinate your timing with your spouse, take your work related earnings into consideration and, if available, consider other sources of retirement benefits and investment income. It is very hard, if not impossible, to have a redo once you start receiving benefits. Make sure you do your homework and seek competent, professional advice. We would be happy to speak with you and analyze your situation.

Dan Busenbark, CPA

Dan Busenbark
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