When to Take Social Security Benefits

The Social Security act became law 77 years ago. All these years later, people are still asking one question and that is: “When should I start taking my benefits?” The answer very much depends on your individual circumstances. The good news is that there  are many tools that will help you make up your mind.

In general, to qualify for retirement benefits you need to have worked in the United States for at least 10 years. However, there are bilateral agreements with various countries, which mean you may qualify for smaller pensions if you have worked in any of those countries (including the United Kingdom) in addition to the time that you worked in the United States.

If you have received a Social Security Statement recently, you should have a reasonable idea of what to expect in the way of benefits when the time comes for you to retire. But please read all of the details in the Statement as other factors (such as a foreign pension) may affect the final amount that you will ultimately receive.

The general gist is this: Delaying Social Security makes financial sense. If you delay retirement until after you reach your full retirement age (please check our website www.socialsecurity.gov to calculate your full retirement age) you will be entitled to about 8% a year more for each full year that you delay taking the benefits until you reach age 70, when you would receive the maximum benefits that you are eligible for. You can of course choose to claim benefits at age 62, but your benefits will be permanently lower, for some, as much as 25% less.

For more information on benefits and benefit amounts please visit our website: www.socialsecurity.gov.

For more information about your individual circumstances please contact the Federal Benefits Unit at the US Embassy: FBU.London@ssa.gov, or visit our webpage at http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/fbu/index.html .


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