There are a reported 2,800 rules governing Social Security benefits—daunting, to say the least. But beyond the myriad rules, there is an even more important issue: the collection strategy to benefits. How and when you avail yourself of your benefits can be a significant factor in creating a winning retirement strategy.

For the mass affluent (those with investable assets up to $1 million), Social Security benefits account for 32 percent of retirement income, pensions 38 percent, retirement assets and pension plans 16 percent, and employment and other sources of income 14 percent.1

Age 62
This is the earliest age at which retirement benefits may be collected, but at a permanently reduced rate. Social Security statistics indicate that 74% of people collect reduced benefits today because they chose to file early.2

Age 66
For most baby boomers, this is the official full retirement age (FRA) where you are entitled to your full benefit amount, and also when creative Social Security benefit strategies for couples become available. You can now suspend benefits to permit delayed retirement credits to build up. For example, if spouses, Jack and Mary, have reached full retirement age, they can both file for full benefits, but if one spouse (Jack) files and suspends his benefits, it triggers spousal benefits. This allows Mary to collect her full benefits and additionally allows Jack to collect an amount equal to half of Mary’s benefits. Then at age 70, Jack can switch to his own increased full retirement benefits.

Age 70
You have maximized your lifetime monthly Social Security benefits and if you have not yet filed for benefits, it is time to do so. By deferring collection, your retirement credits have built up and have thus increased your benefit amount approximately 8% for each year you delayed; for someone with an FRA of 66, this could mean a lifetime benefit increase of 32% by age 70.

There are many moving parts that need to be carefully considered when deciding how and when to begin collecting Social Security benefits. One of our Financial Advisors can help you incorporate the most advantageous strategy that best fits into your overall retirement plan.


1. Source: Ted Knutson, Clients Demanding Social Security Guidance From FAs, Financial Advisor Magazine, April 22, 2014
2. Source: Social Security Administration’s Annual Statistical Supplement, 2012