Waiting on Social Security

Question: My husband switched 7 years ago to a job for which he does not contribute to Social Security. He works for the University of Cincinnati and his current contributions are to TIAA-CREF. Does the age at which he retires affect the amount of Social Security he will receive? He no longer contributes to it and cannot build it up any longer. Thank you! DeDe, Cincinnati, OH 

Answer: Yes, it matters when he files for Social Security in retirement. For every year he delays applying for Social Security past age 62 (the first year you can file) he can get an 8% real boost in his benefit up until age 70. The prospect of earning an annual real return of 8% is why many people tap into their 401(k) or 403(b) first during the first few years of retirement and wait to file for Social Security. Delaying on Social Security is one of the smartest financial moves you can make with retirement planning, assuming you can afford to wait and your health is good. 

How much will he get? It depends on his earnings history. He should get a statement from Social Security every year about three months before his birthday. The Social Security Statement goes to everyone age 25 or older who has paid Social Security taxes and has not yet received benefits. It will list his work history (check it carefully) as well as what benefit he would get by filing at age 62, his full retirement age (probably 66) and at 70. 

You can request a statement and get more information about qualifying for Social Security here.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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