Take Social Security now or later

Question: I am still employed and am almost 67 years young. Is better to wait till I am 70 1/2 to collect Social Security benefits or take them now? Barbara, Palos Hills, IL

Answer: Yes, you are young. By the way, question is whether you take it now or by age 70. The age 70 ½ date comes from when you have to start taking money out of a traditional IRA or 401(k). But there is no benefit to waiting past age 70 to start drawing on Social Security. That's when you reach the maximum payout.

I can't give you a definitive answer. A lot of factors play a role in dealing with your question, from earnings to taxes. But I can do one better. I can send you to the website with the best online Social Security calculator. It's analyzenow.com. It offers several simple but comprehensive Social Scurity calculators.

The website was created by Henry "Bud" Hebeler. He's quite a character. In 1956, he left Boston with a graduate degree in engineering from MIT for a job at Boeing in Seattle. Some three decades after he made that trip in a Volkswagen Beetle, he retired as president of the company's giant aerospace unit. It wasn't long before Hebeler started a new career dispensing conservative financial advice on his web site. And he has thought carefully about the trade-offs between taking Social Security at different retirement ages, ranging from early (age 62) to late (age 70).

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.


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