The decision to file for Social Security is one not to take lightly. That’s because your filing age could dictate how much income you wind up with on a monthly basis.
You’re entitled to your full monthly benefit based on your wage history once you reach full retirement age, or FRA. FRA is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.
Meanwhile, you can start collecting Social Security once you reach age 62. Signing up before FRA will reduce your monthly benefit permanently, but you’ll get your money sooner.
You can also delay your filing beyond FRA, boosting your benefits by 8% a year in the process. Once you turn 70, however, you’re done growing your benefits, so you might as well sign up to start receiving them at that point.
If you’re married, you’ll need to consider your spouse’s needs when claiming Social Security, as the monthly benefit you lock in could be the monthly benefit your spouse receives upon your passing. But if you’re single, there’s no spouse to think about. And that could make your filing decision worlds easier.
When you’re free to only think about yourself
Married folks can face challenges when it comes to Social Security. That’s because people who are married need to think about survivors benefits.
If you’re married and pass away, your surviving spouse will be eligible for the monthly Social Security benefit you received during your lifetime. So if you file for Social Security on the early side, you’ll leave your spouse with less monthly income for life.
But when you’re single, that’s not a concern. And so you can really focus on your own needs when you make your filing decision.
Let’s say you really, really hate your job. You’ve been sticking it out to boost your nest egg, but mentally, you’re at your breaking point. You might need your Social Security benefits to quit, and filing now might mean taking benefits before FRA. But if you don’t have a spouse to worry about, you may be perfectly fine with the idea of accepting a reduced benefit to escape a terrible work situation.
This is just one example. The point, however, is that singles are often said to be at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement, since they can only enjoy one set of Social Security benefits and may have less savings than couples who saved jointly. But actually, filing for Social Security often becomes a much easier process when you don’t have to keep another person’s needs in mind. And while you may only have your own benefits and savings to live on in retirement, you also don’t have to share that money with anyone else.
Take advantage of that freedom
When you’re married, there may be pressure to delay a Social Security claim for a higher survivors benefit. When you’re single, that won’t be an issue. And while delaying your claim could end up benefiting you financially, if you feel that’s the wrong choice, you won’t get roped into it in the course of not wanting to let somebody else down.