Social Security is really important, I think for all of us, as we start thinking about retirement, to really understand the rules behind the benefits that we can receive.
You can take Social Security out starting at 62 years old, however if you wait until your full retirement age—which is 66 or 67 depending on when you were born—your benefit would be 25% more. And if you wait until you’re 70, your benefit will be as high as 76% more than had you taken it out at 62 years old. So by taking it out at 62 you are permanently reducing your Social Security for the rest of your life.
There are actually many ways for couples to maximize Social Security as well. In a single-income family, the non-working spouse is entitled to an additional 50% of their working spouse’s monthly benefit, so in essence the couple’s getting one and a half times their Social Security benefit.
Now if you're both working, it’s a whole other ballgame, and there's other ways to maximize the benefit even more.
One way to increase your benefit as a couple is to use “The 62/70 Split Strategy.” What you do, is you have the lower earning spouse take out their Social Security at age 62, and the higher earner takes their spousal benefit at that same time, but waits until he or she is 70 years old to actually take out their full benefit, again in effect increasing his or her benefit 76%.
I'm not going to lie and say that Social Security is easy; it is complicated. But it's really worth your while to understand the rules and your options, because it could really make a big difference in your life.