Deciding when you should collect Social Security isn’t always as clear cut as you might think. Quite the contrary, there are several factors that should come into play.
For starters, you’ll need to have enough work credits to receive benefits and of course, be of a certain age to even apply. The “work credits” are earned throughout your life and represent the Social Security premiums you paid in while you were working.
If you were born during or after 1929, you’ll need at least forty credits to start collecting Social Security benefits. On average, forty credits can be obtained after ten years of full-time work. If you’ve taken off extended periods of time, you may not yet have the needed credits.
In addition to work credits, you must also be at least 62 years of age or older. 62 is actually considered “early retirement” and you’ll receive a lesser distribution if you start taking benefits at this age. Likewise, the longer you wait to claim benefits, the more money you’ll receive.
If Social Security is your only retirement income, you’ll also want to be sure that you can live on a smaller amount. If not, you may want to consider delaying benefits and working a little longer. You could also use this extra time to start saving some extra funds to help cover your retirement expenses.